Category : Swirling
I went to California for the holidays. I needed something new to do for the season, something that was different from anything I had done in my “old life,” something that would halt the flashbacks to what was happening this time last year. Those early days when my life was blowing up. Rather, when he was blowing up my life, our life. Going back east didn’t seem a good option, nor did staying put in Nebraska. I seized the invitation from my bestie, Melissa, to visit her and her husband in Los Angeles and blow out the end of this shitshow of a year with fun and sun and love.
Christmas day and evening were actually lovely. Who knew? We went to yoga in the morning at a beautiful little studio where a cellist played live while we greeted the day with sun salutations and sweat, burning through toxins, both real and metaphorical. This was followed by a sweet brunch with the dearest of British in-laws (Melissa’s) peppering the conversation in an accent I could listen to all day. We had a feast for dinner, lots of bubbles and wine. We opened our crackers and played games. I got THE best sweater as a gift. Such a reparative experience. Christmas could be good.
The 26th dawned, I turned over my phone while still half-asleep to check the time. That’s when I saw I had 27 missed calls from my sister’s daughter. 27 missed calls. When no one uses their phone as a phone anymore. This could only mean one thing. I listened to two of the voicemail messages to confirm what I already knew was true, and then I called my niece.
My mother died.
It came quick. Pneumonia and sepsis.
My niece had called me over and over so I could say goodbye. But I was a three-hour time difference away with do-not-disturb enabled on my phone so I could sleep. What would there have been to say anyway?
I sat on the settee, listening to my niece cry and tell me the details of my mother’s final hours. I was silent. Not crying. Not uttering more than a few “uh-huhs.” Melissa knew something was wrong and stood in front of me while I sat with the phone pressed to my ear. I mouthed the words, “my mother died.” And she shook her head.
She shook her head, and because she knows me so well, her head-nodding communicated all that I was feeling. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. 2015, are you masochistic? What else you gonna dish out? Did you have to get in one final horrible blow before a new year unfolds? How awful of a year do you want to go down in history as? The year started with my husband walking out and now it’s ending with my mother dying. Un-fucking-believable.
So now what?
I’m not devastated. Don’t think that. The truth is, as many of you know, we did not have “that kind” of relationship. We were not close. Despite my attempts over the years. She was never a mother to me. Never a caregiver. It simply wasn’t in her DNA. She didn’t have a capacity for it. She was already gone before making it official when she left my father and me when I was 10. After that, I saw her when it fit her schedule, her needs. Only after constant canceling and rescheduling. She was too busy with a new life, dating, partying, trying to find shreds of happiness. Motherhood was not part of her repertoire.
Yet, she was still my mother.
I’m trying to sort out the jumble of emotions I’m feeling. Grateful to not be devastated. But, confused nonetheless. Sad. Angry. Relieved. Guilty. Numb. Unfazed. These are some of what’s floating around my heart.
How to grieve a mother I never really had? How to grieve a mother I’ve been grieving all of my life? As my therapist said, my lifelong loss of a mother finally comes to completion. Now to sort it out…
A night like no other
Burned into my brain,
Came out of nowhere
Darkening my door.
Filled with fear and shock,
Guideposts fell away
Hearing the muffler fade in the distance.
I sat in stunned silence,
January having just begun.
Knowing not what lie ahead,
Love seemed the only answer.
My rock and my salvation.
Not understanding then
Open-heartedness wouldn’t matter.
Parker cried for months,
Questioning as did I.
Remembering all the years,
Saying my goodbyes.
Trust had irrevocably been broken
Unveiled as months unfolded.
Vows that rung unspoken,
Wounds that may not heal.
(E)xiled in my heart,
You likely cannot see
Zone when I’ll be free.
(photo taken by Cherish Bryck)
My life feels upside down. Everything about it feels disorienting. What I thought was (true) North, is suddenly not. I feel my emotions with enormous intensity, yet I feel somehow outside myself, watching me and the world around as if from above. I’m not sure what is ground. I can’t find my footing.
I’ve still got love on the brain. It’s on my lips. In my heart. It’s swirling through the very core of me. I’m channeling absolutely all the love I can muster right now. Embracing love as a practice. I’m sending out all the love I have ever felt, in one singular direction. Daily. Hourly. Actually, breath by breath. It is all I can think to do.
Amidst the recent swirling, I’ve been reflecting on my one word for the year. Secure. Not only is this my word for the year, it is one of my core desired feelings. It is how I want to feel, what I want to manifest, and the place from which I want my life to spring forth. This word has been a guidepost for me this year. When I can’t see the forest for the trees, when I’m in the thick of the swirling, I reach for it time and time again.
I have often looked to others for this feeling. Wanting to be seen, heard, held by another to feel secure. And as much as I need the love and support of others — as much as we all do — I’ve been reminded recently that this feeling, this desire, has to come from within. That at the end of the day, I’m searching for my own internal place to rest in all that secure embodies.
Then, as I was driving home from the grocery yesterday, an old favorite Indigo Girls song “randomly” came on…
“Secure yourself to heaven.
Hold on tight, the night has come.
Fasten up your earthly burdens,
You have just begun.”
That’s right. This journey, in so many ways, is in its tender dawn. I have just begun. And that sense of trust, feeling rooted and secure, will come. It will come.