Eventually my posts won't be about Mom or the aftermath, but this isn't that post.
Life has been a roller coaster of emotions since last Saturday. Some days are great, but others leave me utterly drained.
When Mom first passed, the very first thing I felt was relief. This nightmare we'd been in for the past few months was finally over. I know this is a perfectly normal response when someone has been ill for a long time, but that was immediately accompanied by guilt. How could I possibly be relieved?
Then the guilt became worse. It wasn't just about the past few months, but rather about the past year. I keep getting comments on what a good daughter I was for taking care of her, but nobody else was here for all the little moments. Nobody else saw the fights and disagreements we had. Nobody else saw how beat down and run down we both were. Nobody else realized that there were times I purposely wouldn't go home simply because I wanted to be alone and couldn't be with Mom around. Nobody else saw how I would sit in my car for 20 minutes with Anna asleep in the back just so I could have a little peace and quiet. When Mom's scans came back so good last October, we all thought the worst was behind us. We started taking each other for granted. And then, when her cancer returned things happened so fast we didn't have time to think. I feel guilty for not giving her more...more time, more laughter...just more. And yet, I honestly don't know that I had any more to give. I certainly wanted to sit down and simply watch a movie with her, but there never seemed to be a good time, and if there was, I just wanted to sleep.
I remember one time this past winter, I met Mom at Barnes & Noble for lunch. We'd had a very tense morning together, but lunch was easy and light-hearted. I actually told Mom, "You know, I think I like you better when we're not living with each other." Luckily, she knew exactly what I meant. We were just stepping on each others' toes so much. And we both tried. Mom tried to change little things about her...she watched less TV, she gave me and Hans as much alone time as possible. I tried to be more patient, more understanding. I tried to invite her out to join us more, because I knew how much she loved seeing us and Anna, and I loved watching the two of them interact. But somehow, it was never enough. So now, I'm coping with this thought of, "Why couldn't it have been better?" Mentally I know that what we went through was fairly normal, but in my heart I wish I could have all of those moments back so I could tell her I love her. When she was irrational due to pain or medication, I wish I could say, "You're crazy right now, but I love you." When she was asking me 300 questions about my day, when I just wanted to be left alone, I wish I could say, "Thanks for taking interest. I love you." I miss my mom like crazy, and I wish I could have those moments back.
And then the roller coaster goes up.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much lighter I feel now. Death has a way of permeating every aspect of your life. It lingers in your house and your heart. It weighs you down. It makes you feel as if simply being alive is too much work. The past few months have just been so exhausting. Heck, there were many times I was even too tired to cry. Everyone in the house has suffered. The lasts few weeks, I could barely even play with Anna because I was just too tired. This past week, though, Hans and I have been clearing out. We're redoing Mom's old room, we're clearing out her stuff and a lot of stuff we don't need any more, and all of that is just making life easier each day. I've even noticed physical changes. I'm not as hungry, I'm craving better foods, my runs are faster and easier, and I'm sleeping better. I'm also reaching out to friends more and enjoying them more. I can live life more in the moment, as my mind isn't being called back to what I need to take care of at home. That is a blessing.
That doesn't mean things are easy by any means. Last week, while clearing things out, I came across Mom's last tax return and started to bawl like a small child. She was an accountant, so it makes sense, but I can't help but laugh because I think she'd be terribly upset to know that taxes are what made me cry over her. I spent most of last Saturday packing up the last of her things, and I couldn't believe how exhausted I was after just 2 hours. She didn't have a lot, but each thing meant something to her, and the whole process was just utterly draining. After a few hours, I told Hans I needed a break, and we went to the Children's Museum for some time with Anna. That was enough to get me moving again.
Oh, and then there's the planning of Mom's memorial. Woo boy that's hard! I mean, Mom and I had discussed our wishes years ago, so the logistics are easy, but choosing readings and whatnot is so emotionally tiring. Plus, I have this fear that no one will show up. I know this isn't true, because I know at least 3 people who are coming from out of state, but what if they're the only 3? Mom had so many friends spread so far and wide. How can I know who will show up?
Anyway, just know that I'm getting through this. Each day is different, with some being easier than others, but each day is also manageable. I can manage, and I will get through this. This roller coaster will end, and I will get off this ride and think, "What an experience."