Grief: Boom and Bangles

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I had all these intentions on Monday to sort of dial back on the grief stuff; I was feeling settled. My emotions were showing me that it was ready to regroup and that we could start to be more uplifting here on the blog.

Then about ten minutes ago, Boom: I started to bawl my fool head off.

Music. I blame the music. It had words. English words. And it was probably performed in a minor key, which hits all of us emotionally, but it wasn’t Adele. I can’t do Adele generally and right now: no effing way.

Since Mom died, I’ve not listened to any music with words, or with words that I can understand anyway. In fact, other than the music at her Mass, I’d not listened to any music at all. Monday, I decided to play some intentionally, to reintegrate myself back into my world so I was playing a lot of classical or instrumental or some of my yoga music that brought me great peace on the retreat.

The language in the retreat yoga music is mostly Gurmuhki so “sa” and “ra ma da sa” have no utility other than meditative nor do they remind me of my relationships (failed or thriving) with persons living or dead.

Dead. My mother has died.

This shit just pours out of me, guys, so trust me: I’m trying to keep things moving along here. But sometimes the best way to move is to sit still.

I mean no disrespect to my father, but I have to process this.

When we returned that night from the hospital, without Mom (woah), I was driving. He was sitting shotgun and my younger brother was in the rear row.

We all process this stuff differently so I give anyone their zone when we amble about this crazy freaking world.

We were humming along, weary, together, but totally blown away.

Dad said this: “Wow. Jesus. What a blow. This is tough. I mean, I know you all lost your mother, and that’s horrible and tragic, but I lost my life partner, my wife. What am I going to do now? What the hell am I going to do now?”

I continued driving, but clearly, I heard every word.

The upcoming light turned from green, to yellow to red. I slowed my land yacht well before reaching the light. We were all alone on the road: not a soul (other than my mother’s perhaps) was around. We sat in silence. Or I did anyway. If I said anything, I said, “This isn’t a competition.”

I honestly don’t think I replied. I think I’ve told people I did reply because I desperately wanted to, but I don’t believe I did because we needed to get off the road and I wanted to not go to jail that night. I wanted to say all of this:

“I get it. This is hard for you, Dad. I hear you. But here’s my reality: my relationship with Mom totally trumps yours, and this isn’t a competition.  You might’ve had her for 59 years and I only had her for 45 and you might’ve shared secrets with her that I’ll never touch and that’s great. I get it. You were mates, you have a relationship I can’t and don’t ever want to touch. I however am the product of your union. And unlike my relationship with you where it’s all external, my relationship with her was totally internal for nine months and then another 10 as she breastfed me. And then she raised me to the best of her ability, no matter how excellent or flawed, I am a product of her and you. You might’ve exchanged DNA with her to create me and my brothers, but we share DNA with her and that creates a bond that that you will never be able to touch.”

But I didn’t say it. I wanted to, maaaaaaaan oh maaaan… but I didn’t. This is how my father deals with stuff, or at least with how it went down that moment. I will say no more.

Every day, I am reminded of her. I wear her bangles and her rings and the rings of her mother and grandmother. Sometimes I smell her. (I’m sure I’ve said that before online, my apologies… it’s gonna be a part of the process.)

The shiny silver cuff is hers; we share the same initials and so I asked for it. The bangle with the heraldic stars on it has long fascinated me, ever since I was a child and the far right is a gift she gave me on my 10-year anniversary, a cuff fashioned after our shared silver pattern, "Repousse" which I believe has been retired. These are all unique pieces and the sound of them jangling into one another is a sound I grew up with; it is her sound and whenever I hear it, even when she was alive, I thought of her. The first two are also gifts, the front one from her when I had my first son, and the second one my father gave me when I turned 18. Wearing these pieces helps me stay connected to her...

The shiny silver cuff is hers; we share the same initials and so I asked for it. The bangle with the heraldic stars on it has long fascinated me, ever since I was a child; and the far right is a gift she gave me on my 10-year wedding anniversary, a cuff fashioned after our shared silver pattern, “Repoussé.” These are all unique pieces and the sound of them jangling into one another is a sound I grew up with; it is her sound and whenever I’ve heard it, even when she was alive, I thought of her. The first two are also gifts, the front one from her when I had my first son, and the second one my father gave me when I turned 18. Wearing these pieces helps me stay connected to her…

When I was in my own recovery from chaos because of the world I grew up in, I used to consider the bangles as chains, weights that held me down and kept me back. Now since I’m in a better place and have established myself more independently from my parents, I see them as graceful reminders of my mother’s spirit.

I am the only daughter of the only daughter. It’s the end of the line… I want so much to have a daughter right now (but that’s not happening) because of the bangles I wear of hers and the rings I’ve inherited. I want them to stay in the line, and I suspect that even if my sons have fantastic wives, they will never meet my mom, so I have a strong interested in keeping them in the lines, prospective daughters-in-law notwithstanding.

I want my brothers around me so much right now, all I can do is express the words to convey that need. My heart aches for their voices and their embraces and their energy. I didn’t think I’d feel much different when my brothers arrived the day after she died, but I did. We have an electrical plasma thing going on, like everyone does with people they’re immediately related to. (re that last sentence: all complicated grammar rules are out the window right now.)

My mother was incredibly flawed and gorgeous and compelling and interesting and brilliant and she created three of the coolest people I know. The fruit of her brothers’ loins share a shorthand with us that no one can touch. All I have to do is drop a line and they are there calling, texting, emailing, tweeting, responding.

My mother’s big personality means she leaves a big hole. This is not to suggest that persons with modest personalities will leave smaller holes; I am a big believer that everyone leaves a hole, so I’m not going to bother defending what I’m rambling about. The point is: even in her declining months (which brings me to another point which I won’t belabor here: the kindnesses of people who suggest that my mom didn’t have a chronic condition to deal with or a terminal illness and that the cardiac arrest while violent, was yes: merciful … no. It’s a long story, it’s her story and so I will do my best to honor her truth: she battled long time with plenty of chronic conditions which took a sweeping toll on her body), she was rather softly present, and required a good amount of attention, so when I’m looking at that leather chair she used to love to sit in, or a photo, or the bangles, or my cheekbones, I can’t help but feel her giant absence.

So more posts about her and my processing are sure to come. I have a writer friend who is avoiding these posts due to her own aging parents and even though she’s not reading this one, I want her to know I love and support her. I also have another blog friend who is awash in her losses and the losses of her friends and so I want her to know I hear her too. I also know no one expects anything of me, least of all me, in terms of what I should write about next… I want to write about other things, like dental floss and the seasons turning, but none of it resonates at the moment; nothing compares to Mom.

Thank you.

8 responses »

  1. I have been sobbing through your posts and unable to really say anything that I thought might be useful. So I simply like them and pray for you. I hope you feel that; I know you do. This post resonated with me because of my experience of death of close people (my dad and two brothers) and what you said about wanting your brothers around and how the “shit just pours out of you.”

    I remember that after difficult after the funerals part when my brothers went back to their homes and their lives (far away from me) and life went back to normal. Except that life doesn’t ever return to the normal that it was before your mom (dad, brother, spouse) died. You find a new “normal.”

    And yes…the daughters do everything. My sister and I aren’t close. Except in times of tragedies. We become a dynamic duo.

    Some people say that they hate how people look at them with pity in their eyes. I never saw it like that. I saw it as love that they didn’t really know how to express. My husband says that he avoids grieving people because he’s afraid he’ll say something to upset them. I think too often people stay quiet to avoid saying the wrong thing. That’s cool. A hug will do. A pat on the arm.

    My death experience has been this: I want to talk about it, cry about it, process it, and am eternally grateful for the people that have given me a safe place to do that. I still write about my dead people. I’m still processing. Dear Molly, I am always holding you close to my heart, even if all I manage to do is click like. xoxo

    • thanks, Mary. I appreciate it so much. it’s this odd little club that everyone belongs to but no one knows how to deal with. there is no perfect way. i am liberated by the fact that this will be an ongoing situation because the last thing i want to do is rush the memory of a 45-year, 9-month relationship. i see it as love too. xoxo

  2. I feel as though dealing with death is never easy…………especially with a parent……I still to cry to this day whenever I hear Ave Maria, because it was a song my dad loved……..I am crying as I type this because I do feel your pain and understand what you are going through….I am so happy you are wearing her bangles, in time they will begin to feel like a part of you and in a much longer time, I believe you will be able to look at them and smile………as I am sure she is, knowing that her daughter loved her enough……

    I am here if you ever need anyone to listen……..

    Love and hugs to you Molly!
    AC

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