As I prepared to launch this blog, my compulsive nature to plan every aspect of my life took over and I outlined the first few weeks of blog posts. I also promised myself that I would share the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of caregiving. So low and behold, I am already deviating from my initial outline and sharing with you how I spent January 23rd; a very special day for myself, family and dear friends.
I believe keeping and creating traditions is so important. It helps with the grieving process, and luckily for me, my family if a hoot. Traditions usually consist of parties, not quiet reflecting time. Although the party is not why I decided it was important to share how we spent her passing anniversary. It is the emotional ups and downs I believe are important to address.
Saturday night, the 22nd, I crawled into my bed at 11 o’clock, like I do every night. As my head hit the pillow, all I could see was images of this night two years ago. Images of what had become my mother. She looked like Gollum. Surgery after surgery had left her body riddled with scars. Her belly was bloated, in desperate need of a paracentesis. Her eyes were glazed over, hallucinating from the morphine. Her body was still present, but her consciousness had already exited.
As I lay in bed, I did everything I could to recall a happier time; when she was healthy… happy… and whole again. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. The images continued to play on the movie screen that was my mind. One after another until I burst into hysterical tears. Now, we are not talking weeping; we’re talking infant baby screaming. The type that wipes you out and you sleep like you have never slept before.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling completely empty. A part of my whole was missing. I found myself staring into nothingness. Then 2 pm rolled around and the people in my life who loved my Mom began showing up at my Dad’s home. Immediately my emptiness subsided.
A client of mine once told me she had a girlfriend who had lost her husband to cancer. This woman refers to her husband in the present tense. It’s how she keeps his memory alive and present. Instead of “John would have loved this steak”, its “John loves a perfectly cooked steak”. What a wonderful way to keep your loved one close. A simple change in tense can change your entire outlook!
Our new tradition (second annual) is to get together with friends and family and cook mom’s favorite foods and drink her favorite beverages. She is present through her favorite things. The conversations turn to “remember when…” and “that one time…”. It’s a fabulous opportunity to share, laugh, cry and love.