i think grief occurs in pieces. fragments. someone said it unfolds in layers, like peeling an onion. i agreed. and added that some layers are more potent than others.
it's funny what happens when you don't take the time or have the space to truly grieve. it creeps into your physical body. suddenly your back hurts, suddenly your stomach is more upset. suddenly every fiber in your body is shouting at you, "hey, tough girl. it's time to let it out, cause this s*** hurts."
so i'm gonna let a little bit out. out here. in public. cause it's been a good six weeks in waiting. six weeks involving going back to work (after almost a year of not working), trying to make sense of life and other people's (forgive me) shallow perspectives, and do so while also adjusting to having lost my best friend. if you are someone who's wondered how i've been doing, this is a glimpse. if you haven't wondered and are reading this, you will also get a glimpse.
i just watched a video of stephen colbert talking about his mother, whom he shared recently passed. i knew going in to watch the video it was going to get me. but i didn't know it was going to get me so good.
he's an extrovert. he looks at the world and shares his mind, his heart openly with others and does so with exquisite humor. there is no fear in him. he expresses himself because he needs to. i'm one of his "kind." i need to share. but the problem i've had is this: i have be so afraid to share because "sharing" ultimately means "accepting." and i'll tell you, i am still having a damn hard time accepting my mother is gone.
i'm having a hard time accepting that when i call her, i'm not going to hear her voice. ever. again. and that makes me want to vomit. but it's the truth. i do, however, have 27 voice mails saved of her calling me and saying simple things like:
"hiya Mo! Just looking outside and thinking it's a beautiful day and hoping wherever you are, that you are enjoying it. Call me soon. I love you, darlin'."
and when i have the guts and the emotional strength, i listen to them. and i weep. and i remember what an awesome woman she was.
she was awesome. so very awesome.
i want to share one of the most tender moments i had with her in her last week of life. because she always encouraged me to be open, especially with the things that would maybe open other people up. so i'm gonna be open about the moment that was only made possible to me by my niece (who is more like my little sister than a niece being just a year and a half younger. we grew up side by side.)
in my mother's dying journey, she grew weak, rapidly. one day she was able to get of bed, the next day she was not. not knowing how much time she had left with us, comfort measures were critical. the less movement made, the more potential for sores. so we made serious efforts to turn her, to keep her comfortable. and i have to say that turning her, ironically, became the most meaningful part of caring for her in her last two weeks of life. why would this be so?
when we turned my mother on her side, i would place her arm around my neck so that i could cradle her and hold her, while we fixed the sheets beneath her and put lotion on any tender skin. while numerous family members worked in assembly line grace to make this occur smoothly and with speed, i held my mother. or maybe she held me. i think we held each other. and in a rare moment of spontaneity, my niece shared with her grandmother that she would give anything to hear her sing the lullaby she had sang to her as a baby. it was the same lullaby my mother had sang to all nine of her children when she tucked us into bed.
as weak as my mother was, as difficult as her breathing was, she sang it. but she first asked, "will you sing it with me, Mo?"
in an instant the lyrics "over in killarney, many years ago" fell from her mouth and from mine.
"Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral." An Irish Lullaby.
there i was, holding my mother as she had held me numerous times as a child, holding her fragile body in my arms. holding her with a peace and a love that i have never known to feel for any other human being in my life.
i sang with her. and we harmonized. with just a few days left of life, she had the ability to sing and harmonize to what will be the most sacred song i will ever know and sing in my life.
three days later, she was gone. but that moment. that delicate event, is not gone.
it will never be gone.
i'm a snotty mess writing this right now. but i need to be. sometimes it's in the mess that you find the most important things. and this event needed to be found. and shared.
all i know from this pain, from this grieving, is that we have to hold the people we love close. and let them hold us. it turns out that these are the moments that will mean the most in the end. true, compassionate, unconditional love is a blessing. and it is rare. the essence of it should be held onto forever.
if you've known it, you know it's better to have had it and have to it let go, than to have never had it at all.