Sweet dreams

Occasionally I dream of my mom.  I can no longer see her face but I can feel her presence.  I simply know it’s her.  Lately, when mom does come to visit in a dream it’s with the “she’s not really gone.  She didn’t die.  She was not as sick as we thought,” theme.  I get this hope inside me.  You know, like the hope Rafiki gives to Simba about Mufasa.  Simba chases after the aged simian and the audience thinks, “Oh, I hope Mufasa is really alive!”

I wake up as disappointed as Simba when he looks at his reflection in the pool of water.  Mom is gone.

When she does make an appearance in my dreams she usually talks to the family.  Or helps us out.  We tend to keep her pretty busy.  Some things never change.

I experienced a rather stressful weekend last week.  Not bad stress just busy stress.  I kept busy from quitting time on Friday to Sunday afternoon.  At times, I felt overwhelmed.  Sometimes inadequate.  I questioned if I am really cut out to do the job asked of me.  Thankfully, I was so busy I didn’t have much time to devote to self-doubt.

By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around I felt exhausted.  I gave my best and prayed it was good enough.  That night I had a momma-dream.  This time we just hugged.  It was a long embrace that lasted until I woke up.

It was enough.

I received the strength I needed to face my week.  Yeah, I got this.

The story behind the post: Task at hand

Task at hand

I sat in the waiting room of the University of Utah Hospital.  A day earlier I received my first introduction to CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia).  That’s what mom had.  She laid in a bed in ICU hooked up to beeping machines and tubes.  This was the beginning process of what would become four years of what she called, “Poking and prodding.”  On this day, only two of us could visit her at a time so I waited for another turn in the waiting room.   I sat there and took a deep breath.

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Happy Birthday, Momma!

Today would be my mom’s 71st birthday.  You may be aware we lost mom last December 2nd.   If you have followed my blog at all the past year, you may have seen numerous posts on grief (see the Sad Days Tab under categories) as I worked through my mourning period.  This particular post is not like those.  This post will be a reflection of what I learned from one good momma.  It’s a celebration of good memories of a good life.

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May 2012

First Mother’s Day: check.  I handled it by running away for the day.

First Memorial Day: check. I handled it with routine.

We made our yearly pilgrimage to the cemetery today.  I’ve always wondered if Memorial Day is recognized the same in the big city as it is in the small town.  My guess is, yes.  A city, after all, is made up of blocks.  A zip code may be in Metropolis but life is lived in the neighborhood. 

In a small town, people start gathering at the cemetery in the morning.  Since I have fallen in with morning people, we were the first to arrive.  Mini-reunions are held as fellow grievers arrive armed with cleaning supplies, flowers, and memories.  When the weather permits, we can linger and chat.  Today was not one of those days.  The wind made it bitter cold.  It was all we could do to shine the stones and tether the flowers. 

In addition to the normal gravesites, we now have an extra one to visit.  Mom’s favorite thing was having her family surround her.  She still has that power to bring us together as we gathered around her tombstone.  Dad worked hard to make her stone shine.  His name is already on it.  I asked him if it made him nervous to shine his own name.  He just laughed.  Much to dad’s disgust, mom’s death year has not been added on the stone, yet.  I say, if there’s no end date maybe that means she’s still here.  That’s okay with me. 

We visited the other cemetery to place flowers on the graves of mom’s grandmas.  Even though one died before I was born and the other died when I was too young to remember.  Mom loved her grandmas and she always placed flowers on their graves.  They were important women in her life and helped shaped who she was.  So, we took flowers and placed them on their graves, too.  Perhaps someday we won’t.  For now though, we will. 

This afternoon we had a family BBQ.  Well, a Wyoming BBQ.  We cooked the burgers inside where it was warm.  The burgers were good.  The conversation was enjoyable.  We laughed and had a good time.  For me though, I kept thinking of our Memorial Day a year ago.  Mom just found out the CLL cells had come back and started treatments again.  She was sick but she came home for the weekend for Bubba’s graduation.  I had no idea she’d leave us in six months.  Last Memorial Day was the start of a very hard and trying summer.  But I’d do it again if I could spend a little more time with mom.

So, I survived my first Mother’s Day and Memorial Day without my mother.  Whose bright idea was it to put those two commemoration days in the same month? Not cool. Do the days get any easier?  Or has May become a bitter month?

As I tell Lyn, take a deep breath and remember, you got this.  I got this.  I know I do. Another deep breath.

A Little Break from the Blog

I’m taking a break from my normal blog entries.  Mainly because the well is currently dry.   So I’m just going to write what’s on my mind right now.  My mom died 48 days ago.  This may sound odd but this is the longest I’ve ever gone without some kind of contact from her.  When I served my mission I could count on not-quite weekly letters from her.  Even when I lived in a different state, she was always just a phone call away – for chatting or emergencies (I just (sob) ran over Santa Claus!).  

I’ve become a member of an exclusive club.  A league I really didn’t want to join but here I am.  Now what?  I breathe in and out.  I eat and sleep.  I laugh and cry.  In other words, the current of life is carrying me downstream. 

I’m not worried about mom’s welfare.  I look forward to the time when we will meet again.  Yes, I believe that.  I have to hope in it.  Otherwise, what’s the point in today if there is no grand tomorrow?  Every person who sent condolences offered the same comfort – despite all the different dogmas. They offered the belief that mom was at peace now.  It’s funny how a lot of people with different faiths all agree on that point.  No, I’m not worried about mom’s eternal well-being.    I just miss her today.

I have what I refer to as, an acquired taste in humor.  There are only three people who get me.  I’m one of them.  Mom was another.  Yes, my audience is dwindling. The hardest part is not being able to share funny stories that happen.  This has led me to talk to myself.  I tell my stories out loud hoping she can hear them.  I close my eyes and imagine her reaction.  Whenever thoughts of her pop into my mind, I raise my hand and pump my hand three times.  Three squeezes and love you to pieces.

I entered the angry phase of the grief cycle.  Mom was an artist and painted ceramics for many years.  I talked her into taking it up again – with me.  Because I’m not an artist so she was going to help me.  We never got the chance, though.  So yeah, I’m angry about that.  There are a lot of things she will miss out on.  A line from the Princess Bride has been running through my mind.  An edited version, of course.  I’m not sure who I’m speaking to; it just makes me feel better to put it “out there.”  “I want my [mother] back you [son-of-a biscuit eater]!”  (That was mom’s fill in for the swear word so I thought it appropriate to use).

By no means am I claiming she was a perfect person.  But she was a pretty darn good mom for me.  Don’t worry.  I’ll be all right.  Thankfully, there were no hurt feelings before she died.  So, I don’t have any extra baggage to carry.  I’m grateful for the pain I feel.  It’s a mark of her well-lived life.  I’m honored I call her mom.  And I miss her.