(Ignore my gramatical errors – I just don’t feel like re-reading this. Also note that I write not for pity but because I process through words. This is my process, yo.)
So this time last year, it was seven days before my Mom died.
I’ll be honest, it’s been hard to live life “normally” these past few days not thinking about this. I can’t help but try to remember; I’ve been retracing my life back to September 2013 and thinking, “Well, last year at this time, she was alive. Last year at this time, she was going to die in seven days… This was the last photo I sent to her of the girls… This was the last time I talked to her…”
I cry as I type this, oh, because I miss her. It’s that simple:
I miss her.
I thought that 12 months later I’d be “further along” in this “grief process” — whatever that means. Like, I thought I’d be able to announce, “I have grieved and I am fine. Look at me! All is good.”
I thought that I’d be able to watch a precious image of a Mom and daughter, in a mall, on a show, at my relative’s house, walking by my office — without missing her so intensely that I can’t breathe.
I thought that I would be able to logically and reasonably wander through these days… this “anniversary” that doesn’t need to be celebrated… without feeling much.
I actually mistakingly thought this about every.single.holiday and notable occasion this past year, too. “It’s ok. You can do this. Sure it’s your first [fill in the blank] without your Mom, but you’ll be ok!” But Mother’s Day isn’t the same when you don’t have a Mom… It doesn’t hit you until it hits you… And then, it hits you hard.
In the days following her death, I couldn’t register it. You could have been speaking Swahili to me — because nothing registered. All I felt was was numbness. The pain hadn’t started yet.
“This didn’t just happen. We’re going to wake up and this will be a ridiculous dream that we will call her and tell her about. Mom, you aren’t going to BELIEVE this one…”
I remember sitting at my sister’s house, after I had flown from Cabo to Springfield, MO, after I had eulogized my Mom, and we said to one another, “How are we going to get through this? How are we going to do this? We can hardly get through this minute… how are we going to make it a month, let alone a year.”
And, here we are. Seven days shy of a year.
I don’t think there’s a trophy for this.
I feel as if I’ve been holding my breath for the past 358 days. I have so much to tell her. So much has happened. Our lives have changed. When I see her, I will be able to exhale and feel better. Because let’s be honest: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU LIKE YOUR MOM.
I want to hug her.
I want to apologize for ever being short with her or for being a jerk.
I wish I would have paid more attention to how to make a roux. (Did I spell that right?)
I wish I would have lived closer to her, visited her more often, the list of regrets always goes on and on, doesn’t it? The morning she died was the ONE morning in ages that I didn’t call her…
The positive part of me wants to say, “Look! We made it! Strong Shirley instilled in us resilience and independence and STRENGTH! Look at us! One year!” But the realistic part of me can admit that at moments during the past year I’ve felt like the days have been literally dragging me…
I’ve been dragged down the road that so many others have been dragged down before me; the long, sharp-rock laden, rocky road of horrendous grief filled with tears and ugliness.
On this road you can’t walk, because your legs are numb… and they can’t carry the weight of your sadness and pain.
But then somewhere along the trek… somewhere along the road, you start crawling… and then walking upright. Why? Because the calendar keeps moving forward. The Worst Day of Your Life becomes the past… and you find yourself sitting in front of your computer seven days from the year anniversary that your Mom died thinking… “Well, and here we are.”
When she died, I stopped singing. I didn’t hum. I didn’t hear the radio in the car. All I heard was sadness. Grief.
I remember a couple of months after she died driving along and I sang. My voice didn’t even sound like my voice; I think it startled me.
Slowly… life starts happening again. The stupid “new normal” happens and… you move forward. (Notice, I didn’t say you “move on”… because you don’t. You merely move forward.)
How are we doing? My little sister and I? My Mom’s two children; her two daughters?
That’s it. No more, no less.
Life isn’t the same. When we’re together, there’s someone missing. We both cry and apologize to the other one, “I’m sorry. I just can’t keep it together.” And the other says, “It’s ok. I understand. Do what you need to do.” We remind one another of her and that’s hard.
I think we’ve learned to be strong for one another this past year. And, we’re closer than ever. Instead of calling my Mom everyday, I call Taryn.
And, our roles have reserved. As the “big sister” I’ve cried to my “little sister” and she has stepped up and been positive, or affirming… or she just listens. She always knows what to do. And I try to be there for her.
I try to be like Shirl.
Taryn and I laugh, too. And I don’t know how my sister feels, but when I’m with her, I feel like I’m home. I feel as close to “home” as I can feel. And sometimes that all I want to feel.
In the days and weeks following the accident she and I would retrace it all. EVERY CONVERSATION was comprised of our theories of “how” and what happened. What she was thinking? Did she know? We had the entire timeline of her morning on September 9th, 2013, completely and wholly retraced.
We needed to do this.
It’s part of the process.
The human brain needs answers…
…and so does the heart.
Then, as time went on, the conversation slowly morphed into… talking. The “how she died” faded away and I can safely say one year later that it doesn’t matter to me how my Mom died. It’s not important. She’s more than that. But, I can also tell you that I keep the photos of her smashed and crumpled car on my phone… the photos of the steering wheel that I held for what seemed like hours because I just wanted to touch what she touched when her spirit left her body. It was a sacred place. And I look at these photos still. Not as often as I used to, but I look at them. I even hold the broken pieces of her windshield in the palm of my hand every now and then.
It’s what you do.
And I think of that call. I think of the excruciating shock and fear and terror in my sister’s voice when she repeated over and over again, “She’s dead, Kylee. She’s dead.”
I remember the drive home from my office knowing that I was now living in a world where my Mom wasn’t.
I remember the phone calls I made sitting in the passenger seat of my car, next to Craig in the driver’s seat, before I walked into my house with a smile on my face to see my babies who had no idea that my heart had just been irrevocably damaged.
I remember my Aunt’s response when I told her that her sister was dead. When I told my cousin that his godmother was dead.
I remember talking to the sheriff. Trying to remain in control of myself so that I could understand WHAT happened.
I remember talking to the funeral director and his question, “What would you like for me to do with the deceased’s’ remains?”
WHAT? Who’s dead?
What are you talking about?
I need to talk to my Mom.
Today, I just miss her, selfishly.
I wish she was here for my baby sister. My sweet sister who shouldn’t have to be living a life without a Mom — at least not this young. I wish she was here for my sweet niece Aubrey, who loved to swing at her house and play in her yard. I wish Eli could make Nana laugh and smile, so she could dote on the only boy in our little family. I wish my girls could make her smile with their little Spanish accents. I wish my Mom could laugh at Vivienne’s antics. I wish I could tell her about the girls’ new school, about the new house, about how much grey hair I have.
I wish I could take care of her again.
I would give anything to log into facebook and see her chat message pop up. “Hi Kylee. It’s your Mom.” (Like I don’t know that. 🙂
It’s the daily reminders that are the hardest.
She’s still listed in my “favorites” on my phone.
Sometimes she turns up as my “ship to” address on amazon.
Then there’s that song I hear.
Or there’s the laugh of my sister that reminds me of her.
And then there’s seeing her sisters.
And then there are the feathers…
So, I’m still crying, because she’s worth the tears.
I guess I’m learning that there’s no timeline with grief. There’s no start and finish.
I’m ok with the tears.
As my sweet husband said to me just a few minutes ago as I typed and sobbed, “She’s worth the tears.”
It’s true, she is worth the tears.
This is from August 7, 2013.
I miss her.
So cool. My Mom was cool.
—The Story of Loss. On Losing my Mom.
September 30, 2013 :: Slivers of Sunlight :: Post here.
October 6, 2013 :: That first week.Those first days :: Post here.
October 14, 2013 :: 14 days after :: Post here.
October 20, 2013 :: I found a treasure :: Post here.
November 4, 2013 :: She’s been gone for 4 weeks :: Post here.
November 13, 2013 :: I smile and drive and cry and smile and cry :: Post here.
November 17, 2013 :: Weekends aren’t easy :: Post here.
November 26, 2013 :: The holidays, the firsts :: Post here.
December 1, 2013 :: 8 weeks :: Post here.
December 10, 2013 :: The Dream :: Post here.
December 19, 2013 :: Vulnerability and Moving Forward :: Post here.
December 22, 2013 :: The reminders. They’re everywhere :: Post here.
December 29, 2013 :: 2013 :: Post here.
January 1, 2014 :: The New Year :: Post here.
January 7, 2014 :: 2 days from 4 months :: Post here.
January 17, 2014 :: Another Gift :: Post here.
January 25, 2014 :: She would have been 60 today :: Post here.
February 9, 2014 :: Five months :: Post here.
March 6, 2014 :: Almost six months :: Post here.
March 27, 2014 :: One of the Best Gifts Ever :: Post here.
April 1, 2014 :: We’re all in this together :: Post here.
April 24, 2014 :: 7 Months, Easter and Nope, I’m still not normal. :: Post here.
May 6, 2014 :: Mother’s Day without a Mom :: Post here.
June 1, 2014 :: Moving “forward” :: Post here.
July 6, 2014 :: Denial & acceptance & blah, blah, blah :: Post here.
August 20, 2014 :: So, I’m 35 :: Post here.