Grief Giver (Part 1)
Written in 2014, “Grief Giver” is the story of my Mom’s death and the wave of destruction it caused in my life. I have struggled with putting this out there as it really does not feel like “me” anymore after the healing that has taken place recently. My gut is to rewrite it in my current language and sprinkle some more Hope and Jesus onto it but at the very same time I want to keep what was real to me four years ago. It may be just where you today in your grief. And maybe, in its vast difference from where I am today and the message I currently give, you will see your Hope just waiting to be found. I want to warn you: It is raw. I struggle to edit this piece because I cannot get all the way through it without crumbling in tears and starting over again and again. But because it is where I was, it is still a part of my story...
Here is part 1. I encourage you to follow along as I post the rest of the story that you may not only hear where i was four years ago but also see where I am today.
Recently, I had a friend ask me how long it had been since my Mom died. I get asked this question all of the time, probably because her death is a large part of who I am. I know people mean well and that it’s their way of caring about me. But what I really hear when they ask this question is, “ Now, didn’t your Mom die like 14 years ago? Shouldn’t you really be past this by now? And for goodness sake! The mention of her name really should not still immediately reduce you to red, hot tears. And why are you in a heap on the bathroom floor sobbing because you really need to ask her what to do with your teenager or because you just saw the purse she last used again in your closet or you’re feeling crappy about yourself and you just really, really, really need that unconditional love only she can give you?”
I hear judgement, not because my sweet friends are judging me, but because I really think I should be past this by now. I don’t want to cry anymore. I am confused as well as to why sometimes even a little, tiny thought of her makes me burst into fresh tears. The grief is still new. It’s like a 20 foot concrete wall staring me in the face saying, “Climb me. Barefoot. “ Everyday. I can’t. I want to conquer grief, but I can’t.
I want to conquer grief, but I can't.
I also hate this question because I think to myself, “I am being unjust to my grief if i just tell them how many years have passed.” It’s so complicated and even though it’s been 14 years, the grief is so heavy and raw that it feels like at any moment I may be hurled right back into the awful moments of her death. I have endlessly replayed every single event, feeling, sight and smell, from that horrible day so many times that I literally FEEL in my body like it was etched with a scalpel into the deepest part of my being. No matter how hard I try to get better or be normal or just go on, that huge, gaping gash is just oozing pain and contaminating my efforts.
My grief makes me doubt my normalcy. I have friends who have lost husbands and children and despite the crazy amount of pain they hold, some of them are still full of hope and healing. I am embarrassed that I am the one sobbing over my 14 year old loss when they can hold it together in their recent pain. Some even speak of how beautiful their last moments were with their loved ones. Hard, oh so hard, but beautiful in a God showed up sort of way. I want this. If i am being honest, I think I want this so that when people ask me about my mom I can tell them and look normal while I am telling them. I want this so I can talk about finding God through the pain and all of the other good stuff that came out of it that gets lost in all of my tears. I really did eventually find the beauty hidden deep within the pain when I found the real God. But For me that entire period of time around Mom’s death was a blurry mess of shock, horror, ALONE, betrayal, and death in every facet of my being and existence. There was nothing even remotely okay about any of it.
My grief makes me doubt my normalcy.
To start with, I was in complete denial about my mom's imminent death. When I look back now, I feel really stupid and mad at myself for missing what was staring me in the face. But I guess back then I could not deal with it so my mind just said, “Well, she will be okay,” because if she wasn't okay I knew I wouldn't be okay either. It did not help that my Mom and Dad loved me so much that they perpetuated this hiding by keeping all the gory details to themselves. I had no one with which to process reality. I don't know how they dealt with it behind closed doors but on my side I just tried to hold it together around them and pretend, for everyone's sake, that she was going to live. I hid my sad the best I could. But I was dying too.
My Mom was my everything. She was my number one fan. She seriously never missed a track meet, a pageant, a show, a game or even a sleepover! She was the mediator of every relationship I had and she held me together like glue. She was my support and my identity. I could not do this thing called life without her. I truly did not know who the heck I was without her and I never thought I would have to know. And yes, I know my identity was supposed to be in Christ. And I loved God I suppose. I mean I loved God the best way I knew how. I loved who I thought He was. But then He “took” my Mom and with this kind of God I was not okay. This kind of God I could not love.
We didn't prepare. We didn't have those talks you have when you know it could be your last. We didn't talk about God, or heaven or grandchildren. The last time I saw her was the day before she died. I had just had a baby and was majorly struggling to hold it all together without her and with all the emotions surrounding the cancer moving to her brain and me needing her to help me care for my baby. I needed my Mom to tell me what to do, how to love it and what to do when It wouldn’t stop crying. I had so many fairytale-ish things in my head about what it would look like as we bonded together with this baby. I had our entire future planned out in my head and it was so wonderful and perfect but in reality all she could do was just try not to talk because she knew she was starting to not make sense.
My mom got sick for the two weeks leading up to her death. In the midst of trying to protect my newborn and stay alive during major postpartum depression and situational depression, I did not see her for two weeks. I cannot for the life of me figure out why I did not find a way to be with her during that time...it is all so blurry...but I did get to see her the very last day before she died. I remember she made fun of me for being three hours late with a new baby and she said the next day she wanted to pick out a frame for a picture I had given her for Christmas. I kissed her goodbye in the little hallway by the tiny, black bathroom next to the garage. I said, “I love you and I'll talk to you tomorrow. “ But I didn't get to.
I feel like I need to tell you to breathe now. We all know where this goes from here, but I promise there is HOPE coming! Part 2 and 3 coming soon.