So, in honor of my year of loss, I would like to share some of what I've gained and learned in 12 months of grief. Here are the Top Five Things I've Learned When You Lose Your Mom:
#5: Grief Is A Sneaky Son-of -A B*$#^!
I'm a cryer. I tear-up over everything. My girls have reached the stage of "roll-their-eyes-mom-is-getting-choked-up-again." First days, last days, performances, nighttime prayers, worship services, praise music, a song on the radio, an email from a friend, a random text, a Youtube video, a Facebook share . . .you name it. Anything of emotional value tugs at my tear ducts and makes me boo-hoo!
I cannot blame this on my Mom's death. I've been a "cry-baby' since birth. But even though I wear my emotions on my sleeve it hasn't changed the fact that grief is a beast. Oh you cry when you are supposed to in the weeks following a loss. The funeral service, packing up the house, saying goodbye to material things. But I believe our society is programmed to have us just MOVE ON. Enough is enough! You've had your 15 minutes of grief so now it is time to move on.
Grief laughs at that cultural expectation. It lets you think you are strong and then sends a searing memory to the brain or a special scent to the nose or a unique sound to the hear or a intimate visual to the eyes that punches you in the gut and doubles you over in pain. Nope. I am not fine. I suck, thank you very much. I lost my mom which is equivalent to a boat losing its anchor.
I've learned in this year that when those punches to the gut come, just roll with it. Be sad. Cry. Be really, really pissed off. Those punches are God's way of saying "Sweetie - you aren't healed regardless of how much you want to move on and be normal. Slow down, remember, sit with me and cry."
But last night I got a new wake up call. I have selfishly thought that I'm the only one that B*&%$ Grief is messing with, and now I know she has all of our numbers.
We were several hours into the annual Dilworth Jubilee. I was happily ensconced in one corner of Latta Park with my friends and my hubby and my cooler, and my daughters had free reign of the park. I see Middle Mae heading our way with a tear-streaked face. I steeled myself for the inevitable drama and scurried down the hill so that my friends wouldn't be exposed to it.
Me: " Honey what's wrong? Why are you crying?"
Middle Mae: "The Slides. The Slides. She loved the slides."
Me: "Honey - who? I don't understand. Why are you crying so hard? Let's calm down."
Middle Mae: "Maw Maw! She would act so crazy on those slides and would laugh and laugh. And Mommy it is just making me cry thinking about it."
Me: "Oh sweet Middle Mae yes! It's okay honey. I know you miss your Maw Maw." And lots and lots of heavy, heavy tears.
Who the freak are we kidding? I was a blubbering mess at this point and could not parent her much. I could just say "Honey, she loved you and she will always be right there with you and yes I miss her too."
And that's all you can do with grief. When it comes up slyly out of nowhere and knocks you to your knees you just have to collapse. Grief requires acknowledgement even if you cannot give it the full experience.
So yes. I cry a lot these days. Luckily, I have a lot of triggers. Maybe grief is the underlying emotion, but there is so much hope and joy and love and new beginnings on top of the grief. Especially when I think about spreading yellow pixie dust!