Tag Archives: death of a parent

Grief: Think of the Living

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My mother told me numerous times when we would talk about death or when someone in the family “went to God” that her own mother used to say “think of the living” when trying to figure out how to manage the myriad complex emotions, drives, urges, repressions, and crap that goes on in a person upon hearing the news that no one ever wants to hear.

“The living are the ones who are in pain. The departed feel no pain, they are in Grace,” Mom would explain. Grief is exhausting.

Last week, I wrote about my parents-in-law, and the day I first met them and tried to encapsulate the nearly quarter of a century I have known them. I wrote that post on Sunday, it went “live” online Monday. My sister-in-law read that post to her father moments before he was trolley’d off to an MRI. An MRI that would be his last, as Fate has it, and a singular and final moment of cogent consciousness they would share before he departed this earth.

That afternoon, my house phone rang with the news that Daddy-O was in a radically new and grave condition. My husband rushed home almost four hours by car, from the camp-out he had just begun with our youngest son the day before. He arrived in time to join his siblings and mother for his father’s final hours. I was teaching a yoga class, a restorative one, when I received a text from my husband to call him for an update.

After the class, I went home to check on my sons and headed to the hospital, for the end was near and I wanted to be with my husband to help him through it. I also wanted to bid farewell to an amazing man, one who showed me time and again how he embodied gracious living, kindness, patience and true gentlemanliness. True to form, Daddy-O lived that way until he died.

How did he do this? He simply waited. He waited until his beloved was ready for him to leave. He waited until she was taken care of: her feet, back and neck propped and rested; her form nestled in and under blankets in that frigid hospital room. Her hand holding his in a defiant and loving way, never truly “ready” to say goodbye. His passing was glorious and awful at the same time. I wept and shivered with sadness, sapping myself from the reality of what just occurred while at the same time praising God for my father-in-law’s legacy and many kindnesses.

There were no wails or outbursts. He wouldn’t have withstood it anyway. It wasn’t that emotion was not allowed, because he was a very emotionally available man. It was that grief is … exhausting, and the long and weary road to his final days had taken a toll on its own. I know he would urge us to conserve, to breathe and to accept. That’s who he was.

Are We Ever Ready?

I can think of a million things I need to do before I let myself relax. Walk the dog, sort the mail, fill the trash, wipe the counter, feed the kids, read a book, write a lesson plan, call a friend, write an email, check in with my father, fold some laundry.

Yesterday, we went sailing with longtime friends. Before we drove off to meet them, the house was in disarray (somewhat more than usual due to the flurry of life and death in the last few weeks) but the dogs were fed. I did not do my usual, “one more plate!” into the dishwasher and pressed Start or wipe down the counter before leaving. That could wait.

These friends — we were with them the night before my husband and I were engaged (and they knew the whole time, the stinkers) and we’ve been together for many of life’s huge moments. We are godparents to each others’ kids and we were in each others’ weddings. She was my first call when Mom died. She was my first call after Daddy-O passed. Our husbands often wax rhapsodic about taking off in a Winnebago one of these years to tour the nation, so it was absolutely the norm that they celebrated my FIL’s life at the Mass and later at the reception. Being on the water, away from terra firma and all her gravity was so satisfying. My shoulder and back pain of late completely evaporated.

It was a busy day in the harbor. The weather was spectacular and once we broke from the shore points and land masses, the winds picked up.

Floating on the Chesapeake Bay with absolutely no expectations other than a slight nagging in the back of the head forefront of the mind about the kids and their safety, but overall: nothing weighing us down, was exactly what we needed.

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“The parts of you that are not touching the ground, that’s when outer space, the sky begins, isn’t that right?” my youngest asked last week.

 

School of Life and Death

My children have looked back on this academic year that has passed and they sneer. The day before school began, they lost their grandmother Mimi (my mother) and the day before school ended, they lost their grandfather Pop-Pop (my FIL).

“What we learned this year, did not come from books,” my middle son said, stretching his arms overhead and looking at the floor.

“This year sucked,” said my oldest, with no shortage of disgust.

They had to grow up a bit faster this year. My oldest ended up telling my brother of our mother’s death. “That sucked big time,” he said and will likely say for the rest of his days. When he learned that his Pop-Pop was nearing his own journey, he said, “I’m not telling anyone anything this time.”

Between the “bookends of madness” a friend called it and continued, “were these pockets of life crap that you had to endure,” she said, alluding to the weirdness of friends who’ve fallen away, bullies at school, as well as some other stuff. “What a shitty year,” she said.

It has been shitty. But it’s also been great. I have to allow the truth of this: we had good moments peppered in this year too.

It hasn’t even been a full 365-day year for us yet but it has been layered with beautiful growth and moments filled with opportunities to enrich the lives of the living. Even though we severed ties with some people, we deepened and enriched our ties with others. That’s where death is completely amazing: it cuts through the garbage for you and you learn to put not only your own life first, but you learn to put first that which matters most. My husband and I each have fancy letters we can put after our names now as he earned certification in project management, which is a nice boon to his resume and I finished my yoga certification and started teaching. In fact, I just wrapped up my first 12-week session the night Daddy-O died, so that’s a bittersweet moment for me.

“Do you actually earn money by teaching yoga?” my mother-in-law asked sincerely a couple weeks ago. She and I laughed at the question, and I said “Yeah. I do. It’s not a ton, but it’s ‘mad money’ — I use it to pay for the kids’ haircuts, treat them to Starbucks or light car repairs or maybe buy a nice thing for myself…”

“Mad money, Tom… do you remember that?” she said, smiling as she leaned into my father-in-law. He smiled too.

“Oh yes! I remember it.” He said, leaning in to her, that small gesture speaking private, untold tales.

“We still stash it away, Daddy-O,” I said with a wink. Not that my husband has ever given me a real reason to stash away funds for the moment I decide in anger to split the scene.

So I think of the living. I am one of them, as are you. We struggle at times, don’t we? We don’t have to be grieving to struggle; but sometimes we don’t recognize we are grieving. It doesn’t take a death of a human in our lives to shake us to our cores and have us hole-up and cocoon for a bit.

I think of my mother-in-law and her children and grandchildren for whom this loss is so deep and profound.  Despite the fact that Daddy-O’s illness “prepared” us and we had the advent of time and health occurrences and complications to ease us into this most unpleasant of states, we were not really ever “OK” with it.

I have had two distinct — I feel like a cad for even mentioning this, for every life and every death is so completely unique and to be revered in its own space — experiences with losing a parent. My mother went suddenly with cardiac arrest and felt no pain (this is something I learned this year — I didn’t know the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack) but I knew intuitively that something was changing in her. My father-in-law passed quietly, peacefully, surrounded by loved ones in a hospital bed.

There is no “preference” for me. They both tore me apart. With my mother, I was able to tune-in to the intuitive messages I was receiving weeks before and I could spend some time with her on the phone and we could have some nice chats. With my father-in-law, I was given the gift of time and medical knowledge to help ease me into those final moments. I was able to actively grieve before him and accept (with great defiance) what was happening. Not everyone has that opportunity.

My mother showed me that death shows up no matter what. My father-in-law showed me that even though it happens no matter what, we can face it and let ourselves let it happen despite our many objections.

So if the point of life is to live it, that means feel all it — the ups and the downs, then live it we must. I won’t say “good” or “bad” anymore (or I’ll try to stop saying that) because what I’ve learned is that what I think might be good, could be seen as bad for someone else. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Humor Beckons

 

I decided yesterday on the way to the Bay to read Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants and I’m so glad I did. She is one of my favorite writers and performers. She is reminding me, even in her passages about her scar on her face, that not all memoir writing needs to be deep and intentionally profound. That when we just let life roll-out from us, when we sit with kindness and objectivity (as much as possible, some moments are easier than others) and when we actually learn from someone else’s perspective (that they are totally deluded or just have a kinder spin on things) that we can tell a more whole story.

Fey’s book is making me laugh out loud. She’s my age. Her recollections of style, music, popular culture and news are taking me back, moment by moment, to those crazy grisly days of prepubescence, full-on puberty, teenagerdom and I guess on to the rest (which I haven’t arrived at yet because I just started it).

I mentioned some of her humor to my husband this morning and he asked me, “Do you have any humor in your memoir stuff?” and I said with great relief, “Yes. I wrote extensively about rolling around unbuckled in the back seat of my grandparent’s car, a US Navy destroyer called the Oldsmobile Delta 88. My grandpa would take these sharp turns at 25 which would slam me into his black wooden canes or one of my brothers when we would kill time waiting for Mom during an appointment…  And how its upholstery made my thighs itch when I wore shorts.”

I also wrote about when I must’ve been in fourth or fifth grade when NY State law changed to allow “right on red” and how we as children were thrust head-first into a public awareness campaign as pedestrians and the defenseless because the law had ushered a new death threat from the driving populace… my grandfather a robust member therein. Ironically, it was his wife who told my mother to “think of the living” which is something he likely didn’t do much of while taking those hard turns in his land yacht…

It’s all of life, and the living, that we can keep in the forefronts of our minds when remembering our dead and how much they affected us when they were alive and truly living.

Thank you.

 

Grief: Body Memory, E-mail as Archivist

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The body knows. It knows the angle of the sun, the fullness of the trees, the scent of the air, the sharpness of the light, and the grace of the wind. Even if the events are different, if a person is missing and another is on the way, the body knows. And when the body senses these things, again, it knows what to do even if your mind and your heart fight savagely, like a feral dog, to stay in the present, to stay busy, to stay distracted, to do anything but go back into that cave of grief and face the reality of your absent loved one.

I wasn’t sure, but I suspected it; I knew it was either the first weekend or the second weekend in February last year. I knew it was coming in a sensuous way, but I had no clue, absolutely as though a fact, intellectually. I just had that sense of awareness, of knowing and the unrelenting waves of nostalgia, heaviness and “cling” (it’s the best word I can muster) that came and went at me like echoes in a canyon.

Last year, February 2 and 3, 2013, was the last time my entire family of origin and their families gathered in my house. I remember it as if it happened last night. I remember waking that morning, eager for the arrival of my brothers, their wives and their children. I remember making sure the sheets were on the beds, the towels in the rooms and that we had enough mac and cheese and strawberries for the kids.

Each year, our families do different things on actual Christmas, so we’ve made a tradition, over the last couple decades to celebrate “second Christmas” which I now recognize as my third favorite holiday ever. It’s usually in late January or February. We like to push it out a little later into the year because we all see each other for Thanksgiving.

I’d like to think it’s the big holidays that would do me in regarding my mother’s absence. Thanksgiving, Easter, Bastille Day. That was sort of a joke, Bastille Day. I threw it in there for comic relief, but then I realized after I typed it that it was actually the last time I saw her alive last year. We got together that day last year to celebrate my nephew’s and brother’s birthday at my house even though they were still in NY. It was the dinner that I planned the Wednesday before with an odd sense of urgency and deliberation. I never “had” to have my parents over for dinner like I had to that night. Then scant six weeks later, after my yoga retreat and a final summer vacation, she was gone.

We left our outdoor lights on the bushes out front because it was still Christmas to us. It snowed that night. I couldn’t believe it.

from my Facebook page last year.

from my Facebook page last year.

Second Christmas of 2013 was special to me, I didn’t know why, but I did my best at one moment to announce to the family — despite my brothers’ imminent mockery and my own self-consciousness at the sappiness of it all — that I couldn’t have imagined my heart fuller than at that moment: all my loved ones were, as John Mayer sings in “Stop this Train”, “safe and sound”:

Oh well now once in a while,

When it’s good and it feels like it should

And they’re all still around

And you’re still safe and sound

And you don’t miss a thing

And so you cry when you’re driving away in the dark,

Singing, ‘stop this train, I want to get off and go back home again…

Which is a song I hadn’t ever heard, despite my affection for John Mayer, until Second Christmas this year at my brother’s house and of course when I heard it, I pretty much fell to my knees emotionally. So naturally, to help me usher and attend to all these feelings I’m feeling these days, I listen to it, nod my head, sniffle and it soothes me.

It began last week, the nostalgia. I wrote to my son on his 13th birthday, again citing the Mayer song. I thought writing to him would soothe this beast, ease my pain, but it didn’t.

So then I wrote to an eFriend I met last fall after her mother died, telling her about how I was doing and closed that note, “Good thoughts are headed toward you from me.” That didn’t do it. Then I heard from a beloved cousin with whom I’ve grown amazingly and naturally close since summer, she’s like a combo sister auntie mom to me. I told her what I’d been up to: the new puppy, that I’m teaching yoga to the high school rowers now and working on my certification and all that and she asked me, in the most simple, clear and loving way, “how are you doing with your bereavement?” and I realized (even though I knew it all along) that she’s no dummy: I’m throwing all these things in my path to distract me from my pain.

But the thing is: this stuff comes at you, as your body knows, out of nowhere and if you’re not ready for it (and who is ready for an emotional sucker punch, you tell me) you fall to your soft places, curl up and cry unfettered sobs wishing that things weren’t the way they are. That they were somehow different — all along different in fact — but that your Now is unreconcilable; it’s as unreconcilable as the Then you wish were different, kinder, gentler.

Then you realize with a full heart, heavy lungs and wet eyes, that if your past were different then your now would be too. You can’t have it all: a functional mother and attendant father and a path of self-destruction which led you to the life you’ve attained now… that your children would not be here because your mate wouldn’t have stepped into your life when he did because you would’ve gone to a different college entirely if your life were somehow different, kinder, gentler, more orderly and rational.

Dovetailing. It’s all this fate stuff that happens to us when we allow ourselves to see it all with the glorious acumen and vision of a Monday morning quarterback.

Doesn’t matter. Would you trade it all? Would you trade it for just maybe one less crisis in your youth? Maybe one less heartache? One less battle with your parent that would’ve gotten you into the shower earlier? Are these the George Bailey (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) moments of our lives: that the one moment earlier in the shower before leaving for English 348 affected what parking spot we got at college, which determined the length of the walk to the car which had affected who’d we see in passing through the doorway at work who’d invited us to a party where we met our mate? I look back now and say, “No. I guess I wouldn’t trade it all.”

. . . . .

The amount of flotsam in my email inbox was absurd last week. I had close to 3,500 messages in it; something like 850 of them unread. Most of the missives are subscriptions and retailer content. Just before I went on the yoga retreat in July, I emptied it to somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 messages.

I culled the inbox on Friday, to a manageable level, 1100 messages. I know that’s still high, it was an all-day affair requiring numerous bathroom and stretch breaks. I have now the same emails in the box that I had a hard time reconciling in July: notes from my family about my mother’s health and the conversations we had with my father a year ago today about his goals and ideas for the next 18 months, 12 of which have slipped through our hands like flaming kerosene, and the conversations going forward about how to best attend to her and his goals. I don’t know what to do with those notes.

The Chinese use the same symbol for “crisis” as they do for “opportunity.”

That email traffic created a new crisis (on one hand) and opportunity (in the other hand) for me. It was at that point that my father stopped speaking with me because I had drawn a line: After I gave him all the same information he’d requested three years prior and did nothing with, I told him to perform just one task and then I would help. This pattern of his, looking like he was doing Task A while really doing Task K was a long-held tactic of his — who can blame him? It’s human nature to completely avoid what you don’t want to do. The short version is this: it took a while.

The opportunity was that my mother and I started speaking more, as we used to, conspiratorially about my father and how curmudgeonly and obstinate he would be. He would be almost petulant like a child at times. If he’s reading this, he can close his laptop. I have suppressed a lot of this for at least one year and it’s just going to spill out of me somewhere even though I’m tempering a lot of it, so …

Then I began EMDR therapy to deal with the jolts and aftershocks of heavy emotional baggage, torpedoing through the abyss as though finally freed from the cargo holds of the Titanic.

While feeling all the feelings last week, I said to my husband, “The last time I remember feeling any sense of peace and purpose and composure in this house was immediately after my return from the yoga retreat. I did some sadhana, and then I went into the hot tub all by myself and chanted for half an hour. That was the last time I felt stable. Since then, it’s as though my life has literally turned upside down.”

This upside-downedness is ok; it’s how life is away from the Tibetan mountain top.

This next year, all the way through until the anniversary of my mother’s death on Labor Day, is going to be extremely tender for me; I can feel it already. My body knows; it is preparing me, and I best listen, to undergo and re-experience the final six months of my mother’s life and how I managed it; to honor it as it affected me while also reinventing it for myself without her. It’s right there: a pool of real, a puddle of authenticity that I am afraid to drown in.

If one thing’s super clear to me now: it’s the necessity to write about it. I haven’t touched my grief, actively, in months.

Stop this train.

Thank you.

Grief: In Conclusion, Lessons from Mom, Acceptance

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Eight days have passed since I last wrote. For a “blogger” this is akin to obscurity. For a writer, which I believe know I am, eight days is almost like torture.

I wanted the lesson I learned from the ether, the one about forgiveness, to gel. I considered it as though it were a soufflé: Shh! Don’t make noises around it, step gently, don’t disturb it.

Of my grief the other day, I wrote to a friend, “I think when my mom died I literally lost time and data. I am encountering things now that I don’t remember forgetting… If that makes any sense. It’s like some of them are totally new.”

. . . . .

CS Lewis was right when he wrote that when we love our departed and don’t feel grief about them, that they feel more near. I was in a place last week, true acceptance — and I am still there, although with occasional tears — that allowed her or my memory of her, or something real and true of hers to come to me. I let it feel safe. I let it know, without any specter or sliver of judgement or regret or resistance, that I am ready:

In yoga last week, the very next day after I appealed for forgiveness, I was in child’s pose, at the end of a vinyasa series, and I smelled her twice. The first for about six bewildering seconds and then >poof!< it was gone and then a few seconds later, it came back for about another three seconds. An incarnation of my mother’s earthly spirit as only I could relate to it was with me. I didn’t court it, I didn’t beg for it to stay, I just … accepted it. I didn’t believe it at first. I sniffed my clothes, my hands, my skin to debunk it; I must’ve looked like a lunatic: they’re all in child’s pose, face down, chest to thighs, shins to earth and I’m acting like a bloodhound. Nothing around me that smelled like her. I smelled of my laundry detergent and my hair conditioner. I nodded in gratitude. She felt safe; that was cool.

A friend just messaged me about the significance of that moment. Child’s pose is one we do to come down or cool down or relax from a series. That we are at peace, submission, when we do it. My friend said, “She was at peace and wants it too for you; the fact that you were in child’s pose, is a big deal too.” 

A few readers have lovingly appealed to me that I accept that my pre-Labor Day world is gone. I appreciate their guidance, and I agree that I have been reluctant to accept that truth. Who could blame me? No one I know. No one else is in my skin. But it is with heavy emotion imbued with truth that I accept it now. I will never be ‘over’ her death. I don’t think anyone ever expects me to be. My life has changed forever. The woman who bore me has left forever.

Mom used to speak all the time about acceptance. I suspect that some of it was a lecture for herself. She meant, despite my rigid assertions that she lived in the ether, reality. “You can’t change reality, or people,” she used to say.

The reality is that she has gone to God and is no more a living being on this earth. I know now, the deep and profound love I had for her was primal and true. How could it not be?

She used to say that about me all the time, “Maally, you are so true. True blue and loyal to the end!” she would exclaim, almost as a cheer, and I would recoil with embarrassment and pride; I guess that’s what we refer to as “sheepishly” now.

Those exchanges in my memory now are threatening my soufflé. They tread very close to evoking how I felt at the time she said such things, as though I was being teased. Right now, my gut is telling me to be careful not to lionize her for if I do, I disavow and invalidate the crushing challenges I endured as her child; to accept this entire thing means I must accept all of it: her perspective and limitations, and all of mine as well.

I feel her on my left side right now. Or something like her.

It’s gone.

. . . . .

It occurred to me, in this grief-inspired, post-guilt haze that I still have a lot of life to live. That I have other things to write about and that I need to assimilate the reality that Mom has died and is never ever >gulp< coming back, into my life because this is how all life goes. Eventually: it ends!

Most of us come into this world, meeting them for the first time and expecting them to always be there. Even as her health declined and I witnessed her truly staggeringly precipitous aging, and I rationally knew that her time was short, I was not at all accepting of it on an emotional level.

My ongoing break wall graffiti, “Pfft. We had barely known each other when I was growing up… it won’t be so hard to adjust to when she dies…” is total garbage. Her loss has been profound. Her personality was massive. She. Was. My. Mom. It doesn’t matter if the relationship was gossamer-strong or plutonium-fragile.

The fact is that she was always on my mind whether I own it or not. We shared cells, DNA … we were connected. Tragically, we both wanted acceptance from one another — constantly.

But that forgiveness and grace I experienced last week has ushered in a new space where I am allowed to matter to myself. I can write about other things and it’s not to spite her. For me to continually and actively devote this space to the void her death created and my grief from it is to feed a vacuum of self-indulgence.

While I will continue to write, the underlying truth is that I now write in the aftermath of her death. Just as I write in the aftermath of any other experience, of the first day of fall, of 9/11, of ten five two minutes ago.

Of course her loss will color my writing. I can hear her now, “Stop using parenthesis! You’re better than that! If you’re going to say it, Say It!” She was a very strong formidable editor.

Part of my quandary is that I want to move on from this publicly and I don’t know how. This is all new to me. I started this situation, by blogging about my grief, now I must clean it up. “You need to lighten up, Maally…” I can hear her.

Yes, I suppose she was mostly right. I was the Felix Unger to her Oscar Madison. Part of that entreaty was to get me to leave her alone, to let her be, and in my German shepherd mind, to let her continue with her self-indulgence. She won. She always did, and finally, I’m ok with it. I also win too — I don’t feel guilty about it not working out because it was never mine to fix.

So that is the deal here, the final lesson: you can’t change a damned thing about anyone else. All you can do is change your reaction to other people. It’s been the message of this earth and all its conflicts since the beginning of time. It is the mother of all realities. Once we accept it, truly, it colors our lives. Everything becomes less stressful.

We are not as separate as we once believed. When we let go, we let in.

This was a disjointed post because I cut a lot out. I found myself breaking my objective, to not blog so obviously about my grief. I just remembered that one of Kubler-Ross’s stages is “Acceptance.”

Thanks for sticking around. I’ll be back to new normal soon.

So I’m going to wrap it up with a quote from a movie that Mom loved,

Thank you.

Grief: Forgiveness, Grace

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I’m Catholic on paper. Which means that I’m not a very “good” Catholic. What it also means is that I’m very educated on matters of guilt and how to beat myself up.

The guilt I’ve felt, over my relationship with my mother — all my life — and more recently since any chance of improvement on this earth with her has been vigorously snatched from my hands, has been unbearable.

I have heard from people privately: “Thank you for your blog; thank you for helping me find a little broken part of me…” I have also heard from others privately, “Be careful of what you share. Some of it is very private, and it fans the flames … it mightn’t help you… it keeps it out there… ” and I could not agree more.

I have vacillated: Keep a post up? Take it down?

It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, I remember this one truth: this is the Internet age. Where ADHD reigns and YouTube seems to hold the reins. I am old school and I can promise you this: I don’t share everything. I share what suits me.

But the days of late have been hard. I would say that I’ve spent a good two weeks in guilt stew. The last week has been uniquely painful.

So I spoke with a wise cousin last week; and I spoke with a wise friend. I went to dinner with wise women and I have basically immersed myself in a wonderful soup of women and the one thing that keeps coming at me — from all these walks of life, from all these wonderfully strong, vibrant, sagacious and heartfelt women is this: forgiveness.

Because I am Catholic, I don’t really pray-pray. My personal brand of Catholicism has been such that I don’t like to call in the “big guns” until I simply can’t take it anymore. Until I am at my personal rock bottom. I can likely count on one hand the number of times I have actually prostrated myself in prayer and each time, I have been gloriously answered.

As much as I say that I get things, prayer, on an intellectual level, I don’t get them on an emotional level. Or I get them on an emotional level, but not on an intellectual level. It’s not always balanced.

I am by default and practice a thinker. I learned as a child to trust the concrete, that the abstract was a gamble and that whatever I didn’t see couldn’t be relied upon. The moments when I know what I saw but was convinced otherwise were also less reliable. So, it took me a long time to get to feeling or at least allowing feeling. Trust a feeling? Greek.

I’m also big on repression when I can’t or don’t have the time to deal with something. (That’s usually when you absolutely MUST deal with something, but you know: driving, going out to dinner, in a meeting… those are not the best times, so when those feelings come up, I push them back down. I do deal with them eventually, and I have no intention of forgetting about them, it’s just that sometimes I can’t help it — they simply fade away or drop into a cup of ice cream.)

But this past weekend, when I simply COULD NOT shake the guilt, no matter how much I tried, I basically heard all the fantastic voices in my head, including my mother’s (her voice was really lovely, actually, a little like Jessica Lange’s) that kept saying, “Let it go…” and “Pray on it…” and “Talk to your mother…”

On FB chat yesterday, I asked a friend while waiting for my son, “When you say ‘talk to her‘ do you mean really, ‘talk to her’ as in verbally with the voice and vocally and all that? out loud?”

My friend said, “Yeah. Or write to her, or in your head…”

And I squirmed.

I can’t remember if I wrote or thought, “That’s not crazy? It sounds a little crazy. I mean, she’s not there…”

My friend said, “It’s not. But do what works for you.”

I thought or replied, “I’ve done everything but that. I’ve written, I’ve silently prayed, I’ve had the conversation in my head and I’ve talked about it with others… but you’re talking about out-loud talking; audible words coming from my mouth.”

And I think that’s the point of it. I think that we must get to a point where we are so humbled, so tired, so ready and so woeful or motivated or whatever to allow ourselves that “eff it” mentality where we’re going rip off the band-aid and spill our guts. It was like that time when I got really mad (the rage post) and I said aloud what I needed to get off my heart.

I have a notion that it’s not God who separates us from Him, but rather we who do the separating. He’s always there. It’s up to us to open the door or look out the window.

I also have another notion that when I can feel the tapping at the door, when I can hear His breath of peace, but I don’t allow it to wash over me, that it’s really my fault… it’s not His.

My mother was like that. She was patient and always wondering, ‘When are you coming back to me, Molly?’ and I have to say that I had a screen door that was locked because I was terrified of being hurt again, or a half-door like a country house that allowed her into my heart only so much because I was terrified of being hurt again. I had to erect my boundaries. I had to do what I could to feel safe.

But I know now, that was ok. Here’s how.

So, last night… after my famous grilled chicken and sweet potato dinner that my boys simply can’t get enough of, I went upstairs to my room to prepare for our family hot tub date.

I heard my friend in my head, “Out loud. To Mom.” So I basically said out loud to the Archangels and saints and to God and to Mom, to intercede on my behalf and to help me with the guilt.

I said,

“Mom, I know we’ve got our stuff. Or we had it. And I’m sorry about it. I really am, but you’re gone now and maybe we can have a relationship … y’know, now? I’ll take your comfort. I’ll take your love. I’ll take your protection because in my head now, you’re nothing but love and energy and light. You’re not a personality, you’re not your illnesses, or your fears. You’re nothing but love and I need it. I’ll take it now. I forgive you for all your stuff; I did the best I could and I know I KNOW that in your heart if you could’ve been better, you would’ve been better. No one wants to be unwell. No one wants to hurt others — it’s a sickness — and I release you. I release you from my anger; I wish you were here now, because I was ready Mom, I really was… but now I will take you any way I can get you and so, Mom, if you have an ounce of fierce and protective maternal love in you for me, as I know you did on earth but you couldn’t share it for whatever reason there was, I am asking you now, Mom: to get this monkey off my back. I am asking you and God and the angels, Mom, the big guns, to release this guilt and shame and keep it away and to remind me you are near and watching over me and to keep that off me. I was just your kid, Mom, and as I’ve said, with all due respect: you set the tone, Mom. I just fell in line… and as I matured, I simply kept it going because it was all I knew. You did your best and I did mine, but I always loved the essence of you and the glimpses of love that you shared with me, I will cherish forever, but ya gotta help me out here… Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…

Or something like that.

And after about three minutes of it, my crying subdued and my breathing started to regulate and this odd feeling of “Why am I so upset?” came over me. I felt lighter, and I couldn’t get as upset as I was; I couldn’t usher guilt if I tried and even now, as I recount it, I get weepy because I miss Mom and the glimpses she gave me, but I wonder if this isn’t the beginning of a new stage of relationship with her… in that I can appeal to her pure side, that I can have her with me energetically because she is free of her body and as much as I wish I could have her here to talk to, I can have her energetically to think of and be with.

Sounds crazy? I don’t know. I believe in energy healing; I believe in God and the Angels and all that stuff. I have no doubt that I will be sad and will mourn her. My physical energy is still quite low. I absolutely must be patient with myself and this process, so I get that for sure. I must have no expectations and I can not do this alone. Ironically, as I’ve matured, I’ve come to believe in the not-so-concrete; the stuff in front of us all the time is too simplistic. There has to be a better way. It takes guts and humility to do it, but I have no doubt it’s real.

Forgiveness is two-sided. I understood it intellectually but I get it emotionally now for sure. I have no doubt. When we forgive, we lose a lot of weight. Grace is weightless and it’s waiting for us all.

Thank you.