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I'm not sure what I'm going to write here....but I do know it's time to say something. I guess, like always I won't try to compose my thoughts, but rather, let them flow like they always do.
To begin with, for those of you who do not know, my Beloved mom "Babe" reached out and touched the face of God on May 21st.
I guess what strikes me most about that thought, is the fact that, for the first time I am making an entry without her, and yet, that's not really true at all. You see, I know she is right here beside me, because I can feel her. I can somehow sense that she's aware of every thought I am thinking, each word I writing and that she's understanding them all. And oh...what joy that brings me.
I know this may seem 'odd' to you, but truthfully, I now feel more connected to her than I have in the last 5 or 6 years. In fact, the day she passed away, I went to bed thinking....I can see her now, scampering around in the website, reading the bits and pieces I have shared with the world...seeing for the first time what the disease did to her over the years, and marveling to herself..."I had no idea. Wow...this website is all about me...well I'll be!"
Does the thought of that make me smile? Heck no, it makes me chuckle. I know mom never liked to draw attention to herself, so the very idea that hundreds of thousands of visitors knew her so well, would have her throwing up her hands. In fact, it's a good thing she can't physically 'talk' to me, cuz boy! would I have a lot of explaining to do. I can hear her now...."Marsha Kay...did you have to tell them THAT? And look at my hair on the picture...couldn't you have found a more flattering one of me?"
What can I say mom but.....errrr....nope! (grin)
So...how can I have such contentment when mom has just passed away? It's easy...because she has given it to me in the things she has done. What do I mean? Well, mom is playing with me again....and boy, has she lead me on a merry chase. (chuckle)
In this past week she has; hidden the minister so I had to track him down, she's stolen my shoes and left them in places I don't normally keep them, and she's disconnected me from the phone 3 times. But her cutest trick by far was the night after her funeral when Tom (my hubby) and I went for a drive. We were in our sports car enjoying the beautiful evening and star lite sky. Imagine our surprise when, at a stop light, a cloud seemed to form out of no where, and it began to rain on us. Now mind you, it wasn't a "big shower", just a gentle tapping on our heads, like she was having a great time. Even Tom got into it...he just leaned back his head and said with a smile..."Cute mom...real cute. Now, could you knock it off..please?" (chuckle)
See what I mean? This is my mom at her finest. THIS is who she was. A person who could make you laugh, at the drop of a hat...a person who could say something to you without uttering a word. I KNOW mom is loving heaven, and she's telling me that in the things she's doing.... So how can saddness compare to that?
But...have a I felt the pangs of loneliness? Yes...I have indeed. There was nothing that brought it home more to me than when I had to go out and decorate the graves. Amazing how odd it felt to stand there, looking down at my entire family, knowing I was the only one left. But...even as I was contemplating that, I also felt joy because I knew they are all reunited and are watching over me.
By the way, I would be remiss if I did not say something to all of you. In my worst of times over this last week, YOU were my greatest solace. My e-mail mailbox is filled with cards of support and sympathy. It overflows with words of comfort and love....of poetry and words of thought you have shared with me. Many times, I was overwhelmed at your kindess, and I would sit staring at the screen in a rather numbed way. It was like the whole world was reaching out to me...wanting, in someway to ease my pain. And truly, to all of you I can only say..."God Bless". Each of you has touched my heart in a way I cannot say....but you are with me....
I also must apologize to those I have not yet written to. So many of you included phone numbers and asked for my address so you might send me a card. I guess, I tend to forget that my Beloved Babe was someone you knew well.... However, with almost 200 email sitting in my box, please forgive me if I do it this way...ok?
Columbus, NE 68601
So...what does the future hold? I truly don't know, but I can tell you this. Mom's legacy WILL go on. Yes, the website will remain, I have no intentions of taking it off. In fact, our journal will continue as well. Caregivers need to "see" how this whole thing works, so they won't be afraid when they have to face it too. So if sharing this experience helps...well, so be it, then. In fact, when all the thank yous are done, and the loose ends are tied up, I plan to sit down and write again. I want to talk about what mom's death was like. Yes, it was scarey and not very pleasent to watch, but the thing is, there was beauty in it also...and that's what I want to convey. That it wasn't the death of my Beloved Mom, but actually her rebirth.
I had no idea it had been almost 3 weeks since I wrote in here...guess that's what happens when you take some time off. Amazing how it just sorta slips by. And for what it's worth, this mini vacation is doing me a world of good. But, that doesn't mean there hasn't been some 'stumbles' along the way.
What do I mean? Those "unexpected moments"...the times when little things catch you unaware and make you realize just how different your world is now. That happened to me just a couple of days ago... I was out shopping and found a beautiful blouse for mom. Without thinking, I picked it up and carried it around for the longest time simply because it didn't occur to me mom was no longer here. That's when the little darts of pain came. Half of me felt foolish for not remembering, and the other half desperately wanted to have it all back again. I just sorta stood there, taking a slow breath, letting all the emotions run it's course, because there's nothing else you can do. It's just something you have to get used to...and I will. But it's going to take some time.
That's the thing about caregiving. It isn't something you learn over night, and it isn't something you let go of once it's learned. A while back, someone wrote to me and asked what I would do now. What can I say...this disease is a part of me, so while I may no longer be a 'hands on' caregiver, I am simply going from one path to another. In other words, I've become a caregiver for the caregiver.
Will I be able to do that well? I don't honestly know, but I hope so. I figure if one person can benefit from the skills I've learned, how can I walk away? And then there is the grief process. Why is it that no one wants to talk about it? It's a human emotion...and yet it's always avoided.
Is it because no one knows the correct things to say? Or is it because it's such a deep emotion, everyone tends to shy away from it? Over and over again people have written to me talking about their own grief. The wives who say..."he's only been gone a couple of months and yet my friends don't understand why I'm not ready to let go. They get after me because his clothes are still hanging in the closet".
The truth is, grief is grief, and how one person mourns can be entirely different than someone else. There is no right OR wrong way to grieve, it's whatever is best for you. For myself, I am coping with mom's death because of the circumstances. For the last year of her life she was bed bound, catatonic, with no awareness of life. Given that, I was able to feel joy at her death because it released HER. But that doesn't mean I didn't mourn her passing....or find myself missing her, because I did and still do.
But the thing is, I am finding healing in many different ways. Just writing about her, or writing this, helps. When I set down at an AO meeting and talk with a new caregiver...that helps. For me, it isn't so much letting her go, as it is keeping her with me. True, I released her body, but the essence of her is still here and that's what I intend to keep.
And then there's my mini vacation. It's my time to heal in other ways. As I'm sure you've noticed, I didn't just jump back into the website. I haven't found 10,000 things to do to keep me occupied so I don't have time to think. There are nights when I still can't sleep. I may be dead tired, but once my head hits the pillow, my eyes pop open and there I lie. Do I wish I didn't do that...yes. But while I'd like to change it, I recognize it for what it is....a part of the grief process. Yes, I know mom is gone, but there seems to be a part of my brain that still isn't totally convinced. Why? Simple...because I had it in my mind mom would pass away in the middle of the night.
The other thing that's odd is not visiting the nursing home. After 10 and a half years, I miss it. Strange huh? But how can you not miss the faces, the friends and the nursing home 'normalcy' that was such a part of your life for the past decade? And for that matter, I even miss getting the bills. In some respects that's as difficult to deal with as getting rid of their "things". One month your mailbox is crammed with 'this and that's', and the next...presto, it's like they were never here.
It's astounding really, how many different ways there are to let go, and I'm sure I haven't even scratched the surface yet. I imagine as I go along, there will be many changes I haven't even begun to anticipate. The holidays...her birthday...the next funeral I have to attend. Each one of those will be a part of the process...and each piece will be one step, in what I can only guess as being many steps along the way. Will there be mores stumbles? Oh yeah....probably a lot. But then, we all took tumbles when we were learning how to walk alone...didn't we?
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