It’s been three months (plus some change) since my last post. I won’t even bother apologizing.
In retrospect I should’ve committed to making posts every three months. I’d have been more successful with this commitment to log my grief, which is like wearing your heart on your sleeve. This venture is much more emotional work than I had thought it would be. Some nights I pull my post up and just stare at the screen, by then baby is sleeping next to me, feeling her warm little body on my side, her breathing under my hand, and I just…draw a blank for what to share. Grief is so…unpredictable.
Life has been happening, as it so often does. The baby is almost nine months old. The boy turned 14! The oldest child moved to Wisconsin and has returned home. This Southern summer heat has crept in and made things slow down, tremendously. I have been struggling on the highs and lows of this grief rollercoaster. It is kind of reassuring when you can reframe the way you look at grief and think of it more as a cyclical event. There’s no great expectations that it’ll be over and you’ll magically be fixed, or grow into the new grief that has become you.
I now have new clear examples of how holding on to unresolved emotional trauma and grief can trigger a domino effect of upheaval in other parts of your life, in your mind, body, spirit, and social life. One clear example is with my current health situation. As many readers know, I have cancer. I have been struggling with uterine cancer, now it has spread, or we believe it has spread and I have a mammogram scheduled for the lump that had been in my breast during pregnancy. I also have a colonoscopy coming up this week. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that processing the grief from my mother’s death triggered my C-PTSD, anxiety, and every health issue simmering under the surface of ‘I’m okay’ is going to come boiling over. I have now been diagnosed with hypertension II and have been put on a new medication. This is a family gift and was triggered during pregnancy, I’m sure it also has some association with the Makena Injections they gave me. They claimed my adverse reaction was rare, but then denied all of my symptoms. It’s so very frustrating to be silenced and go unheard with medical care. This is something I have experienced my entire life. My mother handed me the knowledge about the consequences of holding on to unresolved emotions for too long, she taught me how those ghosts can haunt you into an early grave. Then she herself departed. It was summer of 2000, we were in California. There’s a beautiful spot that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and as the wind whipped through our hair she asked me if I was still angry. I had just learned of my pregnancy. Today, I am still angry. It’s roots have become so deep I don’t fully understand how to cut it out of me. The deeper I dig into this grief, the more I release, and the more vulnerable I feel. And maybe that’s just part of this process, to become vulnerable and there’s still a sense of fear, but also calmness and humility.
I’ve also been having wickedly vivid nightmares. Several months ago, in May I was in Northern Virginia, just miles down the road from the hospital where my mom died. I was staying at the house where her ashes are still living, tucked away on a shelf. I went to bed late and woke up in my dream. I dreamt of a preemptive attempt to soothe and calm the baby. Still groggy and eyes full of sleep, I quietly slipped out of bed to make a bottle. I came from the bedroom (the last bedroom my mom ever slept in, outside of the hospital), around the corner to the open living room/dining room layout, and there, through the darkness, back stiff, head cocked to the side, my mom. But not my mom. She was a shadowy wisp, ghostly and ghastly. Empty eye sockets, staring me down. I stopped dead, mid-step. Then I woke up. In bed. Baby was stirring, I checked my phone for the time and it was just after four in the morning. I quietly slipped out of bed to make a bottle, turning every light on as I went, scared my nightmare was going to grab me from behind. I drove back home to Southeastern Virginia haunted by memories of my mom. Sometimes, as a joke I would call her mother, and she was answer, “yesssssss, daaaaaarling” and then Coraline came out and I was like…mom, that’s what I picture is the other you. She disagreed and said the other her was much worse than I could ever dream up. I’ve been haunted by that nightmare since. I’ve discussed with my youngest brother, my Aunties, my partner, and my oldest daughter. It’s funny how we torture ourselves with grief. It’s also funny how spirit world responds to questions we’re too scared to ever ask.
I have been deeply and profoundly moved by this death. Just as I have been deeply and profoundly moved by this life. I have been working on shifting my language from saying that my mom died to saying that my mom chose to pass on. I have been formally trained, in the academic sense, to say “died”. As using any other language might teach someone, especially a child, that death is not final, that their loved one may return. The language could also offend someone from another culture, or someone who has strict religious beliefs and so I have decided the someone in this case is me. And I don’t believe that we simply die and are forever gone. As if this tortuous journey we never asked for would let us off the hook that easily. Pffft, yeah right. I believe we haunt the spaces between us and those we love. I believe we exist as the energy between people and places. We linger in the material things that owned us in this world . I believe we are redistributed, and we reach out beyond dusk and dawn, we become memories, smiles, tears, weeping, singing under the stars in the form of breeze rustling leaves on trees. And that is life. And that is death. And that is the magic my mom left with me. That’s something she passed on. And in that, part of that, contains the instructions on how to let go. I believe.
It’s been several weeks since I’ve had Neurofeedback, which I will be writing about again, soon (for treatment of anxiety and C-PTSD). I’m hoping I can coordinate something this coming week. It’s been so helpful for my mind, body, and spirit. I have a couple more weeks of doctor’s appointments and then I’ll hopefully have some down time to heal and recuperate. This post is longer than I had wanted it to be, but it feels good to get it all out. I have downloaded the WordPress app to my mobile devices so I can post more frequently on grief and loss and what’s helping or hurting. As I previously shared, please feel free to interact via comments.