On Grief: She's been gone for 4 weeks.

NoteI wrote this post on October 7th, 4 weeks to the day day after my Mom died. I've been sharing parts of this process on my blog, but in order to protect myself, I am sharing them a couple of weeks, or in this case about a month or so after I wrote them. I want to be able to look back at these posts and see how I've grown...  Besides, the emotion seems less sharp and raw a couple of weeks later. Perhaps this is my way of gaining perspective. So, ignore scattered thoughts. Ignore poor grammar and punctuation. These words were a pure stream of emotion.

Today is 4 weeks.

I can't believe I just typed that. I haven't spoken to my Mom in 4 weeks and 1 day. And I don't want this time to go any faster, but then at the same time I want this year to be over. I don't want to wish away the days, but I don't want to hurt this much either.

A couple of days ago I took the girls shopping and we bought a Christmas decoration; in October. Because I had to. Because when all three of us saw the miniature, festooned Christmas tree standing on the little green pedestal with the glass bell jar lid over it, we knew we needed it.

And this purchase wasn't made without thought. Instead, it was bought with intention.

I can do this. 
I can move forward. 
I can celebrate these coming holidays and the procurement of this adorable little Christmas tree on a pedestal is my committment to myself and my girls that I intend to experience the holidays; to be thankful for them and to be merry.

But right now, today, I don't feel merry.

I'm not living the day second-to-second anymore; but the magnitude of her passing is creeping in. I've decided that the loss of my Mom isn't just one death; it's a series of small deaths.

There have been times in the recent past that I've audibly gasped when I read something; or when I thought of something. You don't just lose your Mom and then that's it. Instead there are small, subtle and sometimes giant searing reminders that brand themselves on your heart throughout the day. All day. Her death, to me at this moment, has been one enormously profound loss and then a series of smaller, just as painful losses.

When she died, I told Lila that her Nana passed away. I told her that she was now in heaven. That she couldn't talk to her on facetime anymore. That she was now in Heaven.

I must have not have thought that one through because I'd assume now that the average four-year-old doesn't equate "passing away" to death. She overheard me a couple of days ago say that my Mom hadn't even be dead for 30 days yet... When I was finished with that conversation she asked, "Who died? DID SOMEONE DIE?"

Yes, Nana died.

NANA DIED?

Yes.

SHE'S DEAD?

Yes.

NANA IS DEAD?

Yes.

Is she sleeping?

Maybe.

Can I see her?

No.

Can I talk to her?

No.

But what if I miss her?

::

AND...there you have it... another small death.

::

Tonight I had to take Vivivenne to the Emergency Room because when we were playing before bed I was grabbing her feet and wrists to put her in bed. (She was giggling; we were laughing...) I lost hold of her and her wrist fell from my grasp; I held on to the other wrist, spraining it.

She screamed. And screamed. I took her, fearing that I had broken her wrist. (It was just a sprain.) But while they were taking my medical history they asked if I had any record of cancer, etc. Then they asked if anyone in my family did. 

"Dad. Cancer. Melanoma. He's dead."

Then the nurse asked, "How about your Mom?"

...

Fabulous. I get to tell someone today, on the 4-week mark, that my Mom's no longer living.

"My Mom's dead."

"I'm sorry, what?"

Really? You're going to make me repeat it. "My Mom is dead."

"From an illness?"

And I hesitated... because I don't know... was it? "No, a car accident. 4 weeks ago. Is this relevent to my 2.5.-year-old's hurt wrist? Let's move on."

...

And there it was: another small death.

::

It's when I instinctively think, "I need to call her" and I pick up the phone and realize that I could call her until I am blue in the face but she's NEVER going to answer. Ever. Ever again. Never.

Another small death.

Then there's the moment when you're driving and you think to yourself, "She never experienced today. She's not here. She's done living."

Another small death.

::

The day before I left Missouri, on September 20th, we buried my Mom's ashes. We decided that burying would be better than scattering. Scattering just didn't seem permanent enough.

The box that contained her "cremains" (such a stupid word) weighed about 5 lbs. A 120 lb. woman now in a 5 lb. box. 

The label on the box was written in that ugly funeral font and it had her name on it.

We opened the box, then the bag containing her ashes and Taryn and her husband and her sweet Eli, myself and Craig and my Mom's husband buried her.

First, my sister suggested that we should bury her in her garden. And we did. Right near her peach tree. Her garden was gorgeous; though in September it was starting to wither. The hole was dug, I can't remember if Lance or Craig dug it, and then Craig asked if we wanted to pour her ashes in the earth.

I did.

And I slowly poured the white, feathery ashes and pebbles into the ground. The contrast of the white remnants of my Mom against the dirt made an impression... and then that was that.

We chose two other spots; in the back of her property under a canopy of trees with little acorns all around and finally in a flower bed that my Mom had created by encircling it with rocks. Near a little wooden bench that she had so perfectly placed. 



We didn't say anything. 
We just stood. 
And we stared. 
And I cried. Heavy tears. 
And once again it felt so weird that we were there; on her property; in her home doing something so very personal... without her.

It was also so moving to see her two sons-in-law quietly following our lead as my sister and I decided where my Mom should be. They stoically dug, quietly, slowly, with purpose and with love and respect.

After we were through, I walked and I cried and I stared into the sky, squinting as I was hoping to peer into Heaven. I stood with the sunlight on my face and I thanked God that it wasn't raining. I was crying enough and I certainly didn't need God crying, too.



We buried her and I didn't feel closure. 
I felt more sad.
I felt more scared.
I felt more heartbroken.

::

We all sort of went our own separate ways in those minutes after we buried my Mom. We all needed to digest this. The signficance of what just happened was beyond measure.

You only bury your Mom once.

A bit of time passed and my sister, her husband and sweet Eli had to leave to go pick up Aubrey from school. My Mom's husband was somewhere else, too. I went into the house and continued packing and looking... Craig, unbeknownst to me, had went out and carved two crosses in the trees near where we buried my Mom.


This quiet act. His tribute to her moved me beyond words. 

With each stroke carved into that tree I'm certain that my husband thought of her...

It made my heart swell and break at the same time.

::

So today, four weeks later, I can say this:

This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through.
Ever.

There has been nothing harder. 

There have been words that have resonated so deeply with me, though. 

One particular word of wisdom has been to surround myself with people who were in my Mom's circle, those who I don't know well. Have them tell me a story about her. Because hearing others' experiences and stories makes me feel close to her and it makes me feel that I still have a relationship with her. Because, as my friend said, relationships are all about sharing experiences and growing, right? 

So today I asked my Mom's best friend to tell me something about her.

I can't wait to get her response.

::

So many people have asked me if I've had a dream, or if I've had a sign...

And up until this time, I don't feel like I have.

But, I'm smiling as I type this on my iPad because of what just happened. A few seconds ago.

My Mom played Words with Friends every night and so I played with her.  We'd usually have a few games going at a time and we'd chat whenever I could find the time. I haven't played Words with Friends and had even thought about deleting it from my phones and iPad... but I can't bear to do it because our chats are still there.

Anywho, I'm pretty sure that after her death I turned off my Words with Friends notifications and just as I finished typing, "So many people have asked me if I've had a dream, or if I've had a sign..."   right up there... a few lines up... I heard a noise.

It was my Words with Friends game. Dinging at me.

Now, I've been on this iPad typing for the last month and I hadn't heard that ding once.

I'm not kidding you. If you play, you know the sound. It's the chime that dings when it's your turn.

I opened up Words with Friends and the game just kept thinking... it was not my turn...

...

...

Maybe I just got my sign...

:)

I'm still smiling.


I think I'm going to end this here. On a good note. On a positive note.

::

--The Story of Loss. On Losing my Mom.
September 9, 2013  ::  The day I found out ::  Post here.
September 16, 2013  ::  It's One Week today  ::  Post here.
September 25, 2013  :: The Call  ::  Post here.
September 30, 2013  ::  Slivers of Sunlight  ::  Post here.
October 6, 2013  ::  That first week.Those first days :: Post here.
October 14, 2013  ::  14 days after  ::  Post here.
October 20, 2013  ::  I found a treasure  ::  Post here.

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15 comments:

  1. I never comment, I am just a random blog stalker and honestly, I don't even remember how I came across your blog. But I read, over here, in silence and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I think I have had more moments of clarity and and "moving forward" through my own process by reading yours. It's not the same, completely different, but so very the same in a completely different way. My sister died on September 3rd... (I can't really write more about that right now, I am not ready... it took 3 minutes just to type those words out). So, thank you and I am so sorry for your loss.

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    1. i think this is really brave and touching that you were able to take this stop and respond. I hope that you find peace this week in some small way and I'm so sorry for your loss.
      Malissa

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    2. Oh my goodness, Anonymous - you are so brave. Oh, you are so brave.

      Thank you for your comment. I wish I could reach through this computer screen and hug you. I know my words don't even come close to easing any of your pain -- but I am so, so very sorry. Oh, my heart breaks just typing this.

      **PLEASE** keep reading. And please know that I'm an email away. If there is **any way** I can be a support to you, please, let me.

      Know that you're not alone. KYLEE AT TWOPRETZELS DOT COM. (Just an email away...)

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  2. I can't help but believe it's your mom sending you these signs. I think you know it, too :) Keep your chin up and keep writing. Thank you for sharing these personal memories and thoughts. It really is helpful to so many who are grieving or know what it feels like to lose someone so loved and so dear.

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    1. Oh, thank you Rachel. Truly. I appreciate your support. You have no idea how loved I feel.

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  3. thank you so, so much for sharing this very personal journey with us. my heart still aches so much for you, but thank YOU for reminding me what a blessing mothers are. to cherish mine more because i still have her, to hug her tighter because i can, to roll my eyes less frequently when she's talking for too long. because really... she is a gift that i should never, ever take for granted. so even though this sounds weird, and i would never NEVER wish the pain you're in on anyone, through your grief you are reminding many me to live my life better, to live without regrets, and to love fully and truly and deeply any chance i get. thank you. (someday i'll get you hug you in person again, right?)

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  4. HI, friend. I really have appreciated these real and insightful posts. As your friend, I know that writing is an outlet for you and, though healing will last through this lifetime and beyond, I know that it's healthy and that it's a nice way to feel connected to you through this very difficult season. I wish anything in the world that you would be able to talk to your Mom again. I know you'll keep navigating; you're strong and brave even when you're weak and scared. I want to say, also, that I hope that society and people (while usually well-meaning) are not trying to push "closure" on you.... I feel it something that we've all created that I don't believe exists. So, keep pushing onward and know that so many love you.
    Love,
    Malissa (aka Miss)

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    1. BLESS YOU, friend. CLOSURE IS DUMB. How in the WORLD do you find "closure" in loss? It's stupid. I hate the concept. Thank you for saying that you don't believe it exists. I absolutely do not either.

      Love you. Visit me.

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  5. Kylee - I just don't know how you are able to put all this loss and hurt into words so beautifully. Truly a gift. I admire your strength and honesty. I warms and breaks my heart at the same time. Lots of love.

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  6. also, i meant to share this, but Don Schweingruber's daughter-in-law is a professor, sociologist, researcher and does Ted Talks and has written a book on this topic (she also has a blog and sometimes she's referenced in major news articles such as NYT, etc). While I haven't read it, I would like to: Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What it Costs Us

    http://www.amazon.com/Closure-Rush-Grief-What-Costs/dp/1439905770/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383664959&sr=8-1&keywords=nancy+berns

    (Love, Malissa)

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  7. Oh Kylee.

    Your words. Your emotions. Your honesty. Your strength.

    So beautiful and raw and real.

    Thank you for continuing to write and share. (Though many days it may not always feel like it, It actually makes me know you will be OK because you are writing.)

    And that is a sign. She is there. Watching over you. Smiling down on you. Ready to beat you at Words with Friends! It isn't in the way you want, but she is there. Hold on to that. Talk to her when you are happy or sad or having a bad hair day :-) And I agree with M., there is no closure. There shouldn't be closure. There is just living in a way that was different than before.

    HUGS to you my friend.

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  8. And what Craig did. No words for such a beautiful gesture.

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  9. Beautiful as always friend... Your words are a beautiful tribute and furthermore your focused energy, making moments through this process carry meaning, slowing down to feel them and live them and honor them... Beautiful. Thank you for continually sharing... xoxoxoxo

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  10. I had to wait a few days to read this. I saw you posted it, but I wasn't ready.

    Today, I read it. And cried. Silent, understanding tears.

    Oh, Ky. I love you. I wish I had words. This journey--it's not fair. I'm just going to say it. It's not fair.

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