I Will Remember You

My mother came to me in a dream last night. This time it was definitely her. I was at work, in some back room standing in front of a computer with my former boss and one or two co-workers, reviewing the day’s plans, when Mom walked in, wearing these cute cotton pale-colored pajamas. She was smiling and looked very happy, and she looked like she’d lost some weight (she wasn’t fat when she died but the notes in her last doctor’s visit a few weeks before indicated that she should lose some weight, and she also wanted to lose some weight). At first I’d forgotten she died, and I just said, “Hey Mom!” and hugged her, and then I remembered she’d died, and I exclaimed, “Mom!” and I forget my exact words, but something along the lines of how glad I was that she was here, and I hugged her for longer, and told her how much I love her. For some reason we went over to a corner of the room and lay down on the ground, which was kind of dirty, and I thought for a second how gross it was, then I decided I didn’t care because Mom was here. We talked for a few, and then we got up and went into an upstairs bedroom that looked exactly like the one we slept in at my sister’s house when we spent last Thanksgiving together. We lay next to each other on the bed, and I asked her how long she could stick around, thinking we only had a few minutes, and she said, “They’ll let me stay for one or two days!” And I was really surprised and happy—all of our words were punctuated with joy and excitement, and she smiled the whole time. She just looked so happy. I think I said something about her pajamas—my mom loved wearing pajamas, and being comfortable—and she said, “I get to wear these all the time!”

It’s now 7:38am EST, September 11th, and 15 years ago I was living in Atlanta, getting ready for work, oblivious to the fact that in two hours I would learn that the twin towers had been hit by a terrorist attack, something that we never thought would happen in America—though I do remember worrying that the world might end in a nuclear bomb attack from Russia, and when Mom was little they had bomb drills at school, and people built bomb shelters underground. Still, we had a feeling of safety that we just don’t have today, and after the attack, we in Atlanta thought that the CDC would be hit, and driving home I had to drive past it, and I didn’t know if all of America would start getting bombed right then and there. It was a terrifying time.

It’s hard for me to think about 9/11 when my mother died suddenly three weeks ago, but my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in the attack. I’m grateful my mom didn’t die in such a violent way, but I understand that I’m not immune to the possibility of a future tragic event happening to me or my loved ones. We just have to live each moment as if it were our last, and for me that no longer means something grandiose like traveling to India to meditate with a yogi (though that would be extremely cool), but it’s more about letting my loved ones know how much I love and appreciate them. It also means spending more time in nature.

Today I’m going to church which feels weird to say but that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying not to go with expectations that something amazing will happen but just to keep an open mind. More on that later.

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Isolation and Connection

There’s this scene in a movie I saw years ago—I believe it was “The Deer Hunter” or “Apocalypse Now”—in which the main character is sitting at the dinner table surrounded by family who’s all going about their business as though everything is normal, and the camera zooms in on his face, so that you can see that he’s a million miles away in his mind. It’s near the end of the movie, and the viewers know he’s just been through the atrocities of war—I think it’s the Vietnam War—but no one else knows what he’s been through. That is how I felt last night surrounded by my friends, who are really just acquaintances. Not that I don’t have friends, but these aren’t really them. They aren’t bad people, and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I just don’t connect with them. Something about how much younger they are, and maybe their lack of intensity. I’d just gotten finished telling them about my mom dying, and a few of them went on to complain about their mothers. Granted, one of them has a mother who’s an active alcoholic, and I know how challenging it can be to have a real relationship with someone like that, and I don’t know the background of the others’ moms. Also, my mother was special, and our relationship was special. She gave birth to me; she gave me life. She showed me unconditional love. She’s the only one who cared about all of my victories and losses, no matter how big or small. Right now she’d be saying I’m putting her on a pedestal and that everyone does that when someone dies but that we must remember the person was human and fallible, and not a saint. Regardless, my capacity to love her and be loved by her is limitless.

It pissed me off, the way the others complained about their mothers, how my profound words of wisdom fell on deaf ears. I’m being facetious; I felt that my words came out in clichés about the preciousness of time and the value of expression of love with our loved ones. The reality is that experience is the only teacher, and the others can’t know what I’m going through without going through it themselves. No one wants to think about the possibility of their mother dying suddenly, or at all. Death is a taboo subject in our culture in spite of the fact that everyone dies, and everyone has loved ones who will die sooner or later. In a way I felt morally superior by this experience that’s teaching me hard life lessons, that’s put me in this club of which no one wants to become a member. But by definition feeling morally superior to others means I’m not being humble or truly growing spiritually.

The problem I’m encountering is that I want excessive amounts of time alone, yet I want to connect with others on a deeper, more meaningful level, and that just cannot happen without spending time with people. It seems that any time I spend with most people feels wasted, as in the situation last night. If only there were some way to find like-minded individuals who appreciate real conversations about life and death; I can’t bear to hear about the petty ankle-biters of financial insecurity (as if this hasn’t plagued me most of my life) or lack of time in the day (again, story of my life) or how annoying a co-worker is, how frustrating a family member is, how a deadline was missed, a test was failed, some other person failed to come through, a brand new item of clothing was ruined… the stuff of everyday life. It’s just boring. It makes me think of this song by Simon and Garfunkel, a favorite song of my father’s which I grew up listening to, which I believe is about the end of a relationship, and about isolation.

The song is also about all the things that go unsaid. Yet these are the conversations of everyday life. Mom would’ve listened to all the petty problems, and offered solutions. She’d have thought about it and called you later with more solutions. On the other hand, she talked about politics and what’s going on in the world, and she spent time giving back to the community by providing food to those in need. My goal is to get outside of myself and do the same.

Random Ramblings About Loss

9/8

Today I feel depressed. I don’t understand why this happened. If the point of this was to teach me some hard lessons about life, I’m getting it. Mom thought I didn’t talk enough, that I didn’t open up enough. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do that, but I just didn’t know how. I’m realizing now that I could’ve just said, “I love you so much, Mom. I’m so glad that you’re my mom. I think you did a great job.” I feel sure that I have said this at some point, probably many times, but not recently, and not enough. Why do I have to learn this lesson in this way?

My hairdresser lost her mom earlier this year, and several of her co-workers have experienced loss recently as well. They’re inviting a medium to come to her house in November, and she’s invited me. I’ll go, but I’m skeptical. This medium will have to give me something mind-blowing for me to believe her. It’s hard not to think it’s a scam, because I right now I feel like good things don’t happen to me, although I know that’s not true. Most of my life has been good. I took for granted that my mom would be around for a long time, and that I’d have time to have that conversation with her. What I realize now is that you should never wait until your loved one is on their deathbed to tell them how much you appreciate them.

My hairdresser feels her mother’s presence. She smells her mom’s perfume and feels her touch her shoulder at night. I would give anything to feel my mother’s presence again. I think maybe this is another of those things where I have to open my mind to it, and I believe I’m keeping an open mind.

Ironically, the thing that makes this so painful is that my mom is the one I’d go to in this situation. She’s the one who’d comfort me.

I want a sign. I want a lot of signs. I want to know that this life is worth it. I want to believe that this means something, and I want to wake up every day looking forward to my day, and making a difference in the lives of other people. The problem is, I’m completely incapable of doing that right now, and I feel like I will never get to that place again. It took me about 35 or so years to get to that place to begin with, and now I’m right back to where I started, only this is different. I don’t want to drink or numb the pain with drugs, and I don’t want to sleep all day. I want very much to live life fully, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve lived long enough, and wouldn’t mind if I died—except that my boyfriend and my sisters would be devastated, and I would not want them to experience that pain, nor do I want to commit suicide. I don’t really know what I want to do.

9/9

Last night I dreamt I was reading a piece of paper that had this typed on it:  This is me. This is me. I am the star above you. I like to think it was a message from Mom, my new guardian angel. Or maybe it was a message from God, Jesus, or another angel. It could’ve just been my subconscious, or nonsensical gibberish from my brain.

I’ve come to the conclusion that gibberish is the reason why I had the nightmare I had right after Mom died. It’s like when a disturbing thought enters your mind and you don’t know where it came from or why, and you know it’s not something you’d ever follow through on, but it pops into your head at odd moments. That’s what some dreams are, in my opinion.

When I awoke, I had this song in my head:

I like the lyrics “I’ll always feel you in my blood.” It’s so appropriate to my situation.

I’m grateful to have two wonderful sisters who I can talk to during this time, and for my boyfriend and true love, who I call Steven for anonymity purposes. My co-workers are also amazing people who I’m thankful for. My best friend’s support has meant the world to me, especially during those first few nights. She went to the hospital at midnight after work—she’d just found out about Mom around 10pm that night—and she showed up for my family that night when Mom was there on life support. My sisters and I have been texting every day since it happened, and of course we’ve talked too. Steven has been a rock, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. My co-workers allow me to talk about Mom, and they offer their support. While a lot of people around me are completely insensitive to what I’m going through because they’ve never experienced it, and are still so young it seems distant and unlikely to them, I have plenty of others in my life to lean on. A few of my classmates have reached out, and even casual acquaintances have reached out to me. While it may feel like it sometimes, I am not completely alone in this world.

Finding Meaning

Today I went hiking in the country about an hour north of my house when I came across a butterfly with crumpled wings. I’d hoped that maybe she’d just emerged from her cocoon and that her wings would straighten, but when I did research online later I learned that most likely she’d fallen or somehow damaged her wings when leaving her cocoon. Butterflies can still live with broken wings, but she’s vulnerable. Had I known I might have been able to rescue her but I’d have needed a cage or jar to put her in, then I’d have had to take her home and feed her. Maybe when I get more settled I can live in a place more suitable for such emergencies. Might not be a bad idea to carry a jar in my car for such situations.

angels-skyI also stumbled across a fuzzy white feather on the path, which I will take to be a sign that I was visited by an angel. Mom? Maybe it was just a bird that had been there, but I’m looking for meaning in a senseless world, and I’ll take it wherever I find it. I got up at 4am and sat outside staring at the stars in the sky when a small cloud drifted by, followed by dozens more, and I imagined them to be angels soaring in the sky. It seems that others get visited by angels or ghosts, others receive messages or find meaning in random happenings, and it’s all so meaningful to them. Maybe it’s all in the perspective. Maybe I need to open my mind more. People said, “Oh you’ll feel her presence.” I don’t feel her presence. I feel her absence.

A few days before she had her stroke I told her about the Louise Hay book I was reading on how Hay believes a person can prevent or reverse disease by keeping a positive outlook, and Mom basically called bullshit on it. What foreshadowing. No amount of positive thinking would have stopped her from having a massive hemorrhagic stroke nor could it change the outcome. When God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it—I call it God—when God decides your time has come, then your time has come.

When someone on Facebook writes, “My thoughts are with you,” I want to scream at them that maybe they could pray for a change. That being said, I can’t say I prayed this morning when I woke up (though now that I’m thinking of it, will do now), nor could I have said I prayed for people seven years ago, and would’ve felt phony telling people I’d pray for them knowing I didn’t pray. I also felt that I wasn’t sure if the other person was religious or spiritual, and would not want to offend them somehow by telling them I’d pray for them. Now I’ve decided that if people feel offended that’s their problem; I’m not going to apologize for praying. I pray for guidance, not because I believe it’s a ticket into heaven.

When people sit around watching television all the time, I want to scream. The sound of the TV makes me want to pound my fists on the wall and cry. It makes me want to run far into the woods and never come back. The only thing worse than the sound of TV is the sound of football on TV. It just makes me feel depressed. I don’t want to live my life staring at a TV screen.

One of my favorite lines in this song by The Postal Service is this:  “I want life in every word, to the extent that it’s absurd.” I want meaning in my life.

 

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The Club No One Wants To Be In

feather-quoteIt feels so oppressive to be in this place. It seems at least one person is home at all hours of the day and night, up and about, and I want them to go away. I want to live alone in nature. Even sitting outside on my back porch is unbearable, because the next door neighbor always wakes up and goes outside at the same time. At 6:30 in the morning. At 10 o’clock at night. At 3am. Doesn’t matter, someone is always up.

When I sit outside on the back porch, sirens go off in the distance at least once, often twice. A reminder that someone is always dying, or getting injured, that life goes on, that there are too many people in this town, that I’m too far away from nature. All reminders.

I came across a quote from Ricky Martin that seemed appropriate for how I feel, especially about my roommates, who do not know what to say to me, and therefore do not say anything.

Anyone who is not on your same evolutionary and spiritual frequency will distance himself from you, while all those who are on the same evolutionary and spiritual frequency as you will come closer to you; you will see how amazing it is to discover that everyone who needs to be by your side will ultimately appear in your life in the most spontaneous and divine manner. That’s how powerful the mind is.

My roommates are all about 30 years old and have not suffered a great loss, or perhaps have but are for whatever reason incapable of connecting or communicating with me. When I mention that I do not want to go to work, and someone thoughtlessly replies, “Why?” or “Maybe you should look for another job,” I want to scream at them that going to work is not exactly something I feel like doing when my mother just died, that no job is going to make my life better right now. When someone whines about how bummed they are because their plans for the day got cancelled, I want to yell at them that they might gain a better appreciation for their day if they considered their mom could’ve just died.

I also find it frustrating when someone ignores the obvious. Hey there, I’m a human being and my mother just died. Don’t you think you could acknowledge that? It confirms my belief that my former co-workers are heartless, soulless bastards who care only about money, power, and greed. Although. I must say I know that’s not completely true, not about all of them, and one of them did reach out to express condolences.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the same way before this happened. While I usually said, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and I often thought of the person and felt bad for them, I did not initiate conversation about their deceased loved one. No one knows what to say. No one wants to feel sad. No one wants to experience this. My mentor said, “Welcome to the club that no one wants to be in.”

I don’t want to be the bigger person who has to sympathize with others and how uncomfortable they may feel in my presence, in spite of how that perspective helps me grow and become more spiritually fit. I want to be angry and accusatory and judging, to let them know how insensitive they are. Not really. I want to grow spiritually, to love more deeply, to become a wiser person. What makes me cringe is that I had prayed for this. I prayed to grow spiritually, to become closer to God. But this is not what I had in mind. Not in this way.

There are people I’ve thought about reaching out to but haven’t. There are people I’ve reached out to but don’t wish to see any time soon. Mostly I want to be alone, or with my boyfriend. If my sisters or best friend lived here, I’d want to be with them. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with my mentor, which I’ll do in the next week or two. Those are the only people I can think of who I want to hang out with. I do have a friend who lost her husband a couple of years ago, and she lost her mother 15 years ago, so I might not mind hanging out with her. Plus she has a horse, who she wants to introduce me to, and I would love to meet. Maybe I’ll go for a horseback ride, which is something I’ve only done twice in my life. The first time was with my mom’s stepfather, and the second time was in Costa Rica.

When I see women my age with their moms, I feel very sad. When I see women my mom’s age, I feel sad. When I see women older than mom, I feel resentful. I want to tell them how lucky they are, or better yet, how lucky their daughters are, and I want to tell the daughters that I hope they appreciate their mothers.

I don’t understand why someone as beautiful as my mom had to go. She made such a big difference in the world. She lived for her daughters, and then for her grandchildren, and for the local food pantry. She spent most of her time giving to others. We need more people like her in the world. I will do my best to live my life the way she lived hers. Although the last thing I want to do right now is anything that does not involve sitting in nature or writing, I want to do volunteer work and find a way to be helpful to those in need.

I’ll end with this beautiful song my sister reminded me about. My favorite lines are, “It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance… It’s the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”

Mother

mother-goddessI would give anything to go back to three weeks ago when I was visiting Mom, and I would tell her how much I love her, that she was a wonderful mother, how grateful I am that she was my mother. I’d tell her how much I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for my sisters and me over the years, how lucky I feel to have had such a good relationship with her. I’d tell her what a great role model she was, how much I look up to her and hope to be half as magnanimous and knowledgeable as her, that I aspire to be a humanitarian like her, that I am working on becoming more politically aware and educated about what’s going on in the world. I would tell her how grateful I am that God chose her to be my mother, and I’d tell her my belief that my soul chose her to be my mother.

I read somewhere that our souls choose our parents, and while truly I have no idea what my soul chooses or if it has the power of choice, nor do I understand why my soul would choose my father, who’s impossible to get close to on account of a possible mental illness or maybe just alcoholism—and I’m sure there’s at least one lesson there to be learned—I like the idea that my soul chose my mom and my sisters, and that we will always be together in some way. That if we reincarnate, we will still be in relationship with each other in some way. I like that idea, and therefore will go with it.

Nothing I do feels like enough, or like the right thing. Any time I start to do one thing, I want to be doing something else. Being inside buildings feels oppressive. I’ve downloaded so many samples of books to read, yet when I start reading, for example, Mark Twain, because I love him and so did Mom, I decide instead to read a spiritual book about angels, which turned out to be what one might call snake oil. The writer is a woman who goes on tours to woo crowds with her dead-person-communication capabilities, and she’s been on talk shows, wandering around with comments like, “I am sensing that someone here lost their mother in an accident, and that the whole family is here together today.” So then I start reading a self-help book about grieving only to feel that it’s not exactly what I want to be reading either.

One thing I read in one of the Kindle samples was that from death can come the act of living more meaningfully, which prompted me to think of things I want to tell my sisters, and do for them. Here’s what I want to do:

  1. Make a playlist of meaningful songs
  2. Tell them I love them, that I’m grateful to have them as sisters
  3. Buy books for them that have helped me on my journey and which may help them too
  4. Write a story or poem for them
  5. Visit them more often

I’ll try to remember that Mom knows how much I love her, that she knew how much I loved her. Right now it’s hard not to feel regret. I do know my last words to her were, “I love you,” because I have it in text. It was a rare time I remembered to let her know I’d made it home okay. The last time I saw her was in her driveway, watching me drive away, waving at me.

Thoughts on Purpose

mother-and-child

My plan to become a nutritionist came about because I’m interested in nutrition and in helping others, and I thought I could learn about ways in which a person could improve their own life by taking an active role in their health and eating nutritious food that they enjoy.

The problem is my mom just died, suddenly and without warning, and I can’t think of anything else. Spending all my free time studying is not something I am willing to do right now. Borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for a career of which the outcome is unknown—that’s not something I’m eager to do either. I keep wondering if I’m doing the right thing, and if I should quit altogether. I want so badly to receive a sign, a confirmation of what to do. I want this path to be easy, for my intuition to make it feel right, not to be clouded by uncertainty and doubt. Is something wrong with me?

Maybe I should just do it, put one foot in front of the other, and keep on trucking, and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll deal with it later. It can’t possibly be as soul-sucking as being in the marketing industry.