Coming up to breathe

It’s hard to believe that over a month has gone by since Mom’s passing. It’s been a busy, as well as highly emotional time. Losing Mom has been such a different experience in so many ways than it was to lose Dad. I’ve at times felt that my sadness is much heavier, and so much more frequent. And maybe that’s because Mom and I were so close. Or maybe it’s the finality of knowing both of my parents are now gone.

My siblings and I continue to move forward together, recognizing that forgiving each other is sometimes a daily effort. We’re all doing our best to maintain a sense of humor.

I have a sense of peace this time that I didn’t feel after Dad passed away. My parents are together now, no longer having to deal with the sufferings of this world. They are surrounded by the many loved ones gone before them, not to mention … Mom’s beloved dogs!

The worries I’m left with this time are about things, not about a person left behind and how I might care for her. The to-do list, and the stresses this time … I can deal with them. There’s a handbook for the kinds of things I have to face this time, and when I don’t know what to do, I can easily find the answer.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been difficult. It often feels wrong to be dismantling my parents’ home, sorting the surroundings of their lives into keep-, donate- and sell-piles.

The first few weeks after the funeral were the hardest, especially as I walked out the doors after work. My mind so routinely took me straight to Mom’s house to pick her up, that there was always a split-second in which I’d forget that she’s not there anymore. And then the tears would roll. I still stop by her town house almost daily to pick up mail. Leaving her neighborhood without her in the passenger seat feels so strange, but I sometimes take that time alone in the car to talk to her as if she’s still there by my side.

There’s been a bit of guilt for the sense that I have my life back. I shouldn’t say it like that. It’s not that I had to give up my life in order to help care for my parents. But I often recognize now just how very limited I was, how many evenings and weekends I had to forgo other opportunities, either because I needed to take care of Mom, or just in case she needed me. It was like returning to the years of having young kids. Their needs came first, and my freedom was secondary.

And really? I wouldn’t change a thing. The entire process of first recognizing my parents needed help, how hard it must have been for them to ask, and then having to embrace the role of caregiver was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. It was often frustrating, scary, overwhelming and depressing. It was also very rewarding. Mom and I forged a close bond the likes of which I’d once thought we’d never have. I can only see now how much stronger I am because of it. If not for this experience, I’m not sure I’d have gained such an awareness of how challenging it is to grow sick and old, how sad and lonely it can be. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this awareness, but I certainly don’t want to simply put it out of my mind and do nothing.

Maybe after the dust has settled, I’ll figure it out.

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5 thoughts on “Coming up to breathe

  1. Good to hear from you again, Tee. We’ve missed you. I was also very close with my Mom and found her death harder to cope with than Dads. But there was comfort in knowing, as you said, they’re together again with her pets and their friends and others who have gone ahead of them. one day the waves of grief nip my ankles and the other day feels like a Tsunami. It’s been over a year and a half; it’s getting better, but the void of her passing is deep and wide as I imagine yours is with your Mom.

    Peace, grace and blessings on you ~ MJ

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  2. You are a very contemplative person so it definitely will come to you. I know going through the process with my Father, seeing how it all unfolded, the decisions he made, the consequences of those decisions, have had a powerful effect on how I’m organizing my life and my plans for the end.

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  3. So glad to hear you’re surviving! Losing a parent is rough, and everybody tells me it’s even tougher to realize that you’re an orphan once both parents are gone. Sounds like you’re handling things as well as anybody could. Good that your sibs are coming together to help out, too! Don’t feel guilty about getting your life back either. Caregiving is hard in even the best situations, and having that burden lifted can only feel good. Your faith will sustain you during these dark days, and I imagine you’ll be surprised at how light you feel once spring arrives.

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  4. We lost each other.
    Now,…. I find you.
    A tad late.
    Rough coupla years.

    And now, both of our moms are at peace. For me, 10 years in May.
    She had 12 kids and 99 grands at her adios. I just wrote her online last month celebrating her wedding anniversary in 1939. She told me once that after dad died in’84, and ever since, that I was the only one of my siblings to send her an anniversary card each year.
    (Now, I jot other Legacy page online for that day. No one joins me)

    On one of my last visits, she leaned in and said:
    “Keystone, tell me again where we are gonna meet in heaven!”

    I told her what I told my daughter’s from decades before.

    The Bible tells us that heaven has 4 walls. Each wall has 3 gates.
    When you get to heaven, ask the first person you meet
    “Howdy! Which way is East?”

    When they tell you, walk that way til you come to a wall, the Eastern Wall.
    Look at the 3 gates.
    Go to the Middle Gate and go in.
    I’ll meet you just inside the Middle Eastern Gate of Heaven”

    Mom smiled and shook her head Yes.
    She would remember.

    So terri, if you never did this, tell your kids and others. Tell them all the fun people are going to meet there.

    I’ll meet YOU there!
    Then, we’ll scoot around and look for YOUR mom, and let the laughter begin.

    I miss you. Pray away!

    Love,
    Keystone

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  5. I agree with Michael. You’re so good at reflecting on your feelings, and the events happening in your life, that you’ll figure it out.
    What’s nice, is you know you did everything you could to help your parents through their final days. That in itself has to offer you so much peace. Proud of you – it was a tough go, but you rocked it. You’re an inspiration to us all.

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