I’m not sure what set me off.
A few days ago on our way to Columbus to see our daughter, we drove past a sign for Deer Creek State Park and a memory intruded. When our children were young, our daughter just a toddler in a stroller, we had a little weekend get-away at Deer Creek with my parents. What I remember most is aided by the video I took of Mark playing baseball with our two young sons while Anna and I watched nearby. My mom came out to join us.
This was a rare memory, my mom participating at some level in family outdoor activities. So many times she was left behind, or inside, with my sister Annie.
It makes me feel bad now to think about it, and all the things Mom missed out on, the fact that she was outside early in the morning with us there at Deer Creek providing evidence that she wanted to spend the time with us and enjoy the moment with us.
It just makes me feel bad.
I know there have been many consequences of having grown up with a severely disabled sister like Annie. I didn’t know that I would feel the implications of that for perhaps the rest of my life.
Just when I think I’ve surfaced for good from my grief at having lost Mom and Dad in January, just when I think I am able to move on, I see a little roadside sign; a memory is stirred; the grief pays an unwelcome visit, and I am overcome. It imprisons me like weights strapped to my limbs sapping my strength and my energy.
Since the very beginning of this sorrow, I have been flip-flopping. Initially I felt I could never write again. My mother was my best supporter. Her belief in me drove me on. I can’t write anymore, I thought. Then, no. I’ll write still. I’ll write for my mother still.
I’m going to work like mad to finish my dad’s book, I think.
No. I’m done with it. I’ll put it away for now. Maybe forever.
I work like a crazy person scanning photographs and memorabilia that covers my dining room table and spills out of boxes. Then I think it is a pointless activity and the once-perceived-as-treasures sit untended collecting dust.
I gain a burst of energy with the warming days and greening trees, and I make a list of all the spring-cleaning projects I intend to do. It gets lost amid other lists and unfinished plans.
I am plagued by poignant scenes from the last weeks and days of their lives: peeking in the door to see Mom lying curled up on her bed beside my dad who says nothing and offers no comfort. Lifting Mom to her feet with our arms around and clinging to each other.
These things kill me.
Mom trying to respond to my “I love you,” while struggling for breath, eyes closed, her seemingly unconscious state belied by her effort to speak. The memory haunts me.
I’m not sure what set me off. But now I can only wait for the wave to pass, and try again to go on.
You can follow my personal journey through grief here. If you are also grieving the loss of a loved one, I hope it brings you comfort to know that you are not alone as you move on through grief.