Sorting it Out

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 13
Posted in: Film, Refocus, SOOC, 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…

13 Responses

  1. Kristen says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Meghan and can completely relate – my mom left when I was 9 and I
    too was raised by my Dad. It felt strange when she died, like you, a lot of mixed emotions.

  2. I hardly know what to say except to reiterate what you already know – that you are SO loved. And to hope that 2016 is a fresh start with all good things (and very few bad) in it. xx

  3. Lisa says:

    I’m so sorry for your losses this past year. I lost my (complicated) mother five years ago, and I have spent them trying to have a different kind of relationship with her- understand her, maybe? In order to understand myself. It is painful, frustrating and at times, even exhilierating in the freedom it has given me to embrace life (as cliche as that may sound). I wish you strength and comfort in the coming year. xo

  4. Martha says:

    So, so sorry for your loss…regardless of the type of relationship you had, she was still your mother. I can relate, at least to a degree; mine is still alive but we also don’t have the kind of relationship I wish we had and I wonder often how & what I will feel when her time comes. Hugs to you and wishes for a happier 2016!

  5. I read this and could totally relate. 2015 sucked big time. I won’t bore you with the details but the misery was unrelenting that I didn’t know if I was going to survive it.

    I can completely understand what you are saying about your mother. I am in the same boat. Some day when mine dies, I expect I will likely feel the same way. Hard to miss what you never really had. The only being a part of her life when she had time & the constant cancelling has been my experience too. 20 years ago, I’d finally had enough & simply stopped engaging. Best decision I ever could have made. People treat us how we allow them to. I decided I deserved better.

    I am sorry you have had to go though all this difficulty. I hope 2016 brings you a measure of healing and a sense of freedom. I am glad you have good friends to lift your spirits & support you. Be well.

  6. Meredith says:

    I’m so sorry for your losses in 2015 Meghan and I truly hope that this year brings you a cornucopia of love, joy and wonder. Xx

  7. Kathryn Parmeter says:

    I feel this so acutely, Meghan. Muffled trauma is the worst to recover from…when the trauma is indirect, buried, unreliable or otherwise fraught with conflict….it seeps out of one like a slowly leaking wound. Am I? Do I deserve? Should? Would I have…had she, had I. All the conditional and subjunctive verbs coming into play all at once. I had similar layers of shite bubbling up in a primordial ooze of FUCKME, too, over the holidays. So glad you were with friends who love you.

    I feel your pain. May you find clarity swiftly and with great justice to yourself.

  8. Susan Licht says:

    So sorry to read this, Meghan. As a new “friend” on this crazy internet, I had read bits and pieces on FB and such, I had a feeling something devastating had happened. Give yourself lots of time…I lost my father, mother and only brother all within a few years of each other…I will be forever trying to sort things out.
    I hope 2016 brings only good things for you. Big hugs.

  9. Staci says:

    I am so sorry.

  10. Oh Meghan… so sorry for your loss…my heart goes out to you with so much love.

  11. You are so in my thoughts!

  12. Corinna says:

    My dear friend – I couldn’t be happier for you that fucking-2015 is over. I can only imagine that it must feel like the task of sorting it out is enormous, but 2015 proved to me how brilliant your are at doing just that. I believe that something beautiful will be borne out of this confusing transition too. I love you.

  13. tara says:

    You are the strongest person I know, no need for the universe to test it further. Goodbye, 2015 indeed. Wishing you some clarity and healing and so much LOVE. xx

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