November 28, 2009

Making peace with grief...

I've been feeling really antisocial lately. It isn't that I don't want to be around people, it's that I've felt slow, weighed down. It seems like I have this little cloud over my head, like the one in the comic books. So, every time I sit down to write, even if I have something I want to write about, I haven't had the energy to do it. At first, I thought maybe it was some mild seasonal depression but I realize it's something else.

Today would have been my mother's 59th birthday. She died three years ago last month of colon cancer. The cancer was advanced when the doctors discovered it and we knew from the beginning it was terminal. Mom was diagnosed in the fall of one year and died the following fall. The week she was diagnosed, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first daughter. Talk about life's joys and sorrows being intertwined. Thank goodness for some light in a dark time!

While I was so glad to know we were expecting a little bundle of sweetness, the joy was muted by the knowledge my mom might not get to meet meet her and definitely wouldn't be around to be a grandma. I spend my time trying to focus on the happy moments I had left with my mom. But, the helpless feeling of watching her live her last days in so much pain was excruciating, not to mention the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not a bad day was "really it". It was an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.

I realized that the darkness I've been experiencing is that muted feeling I had when I knew I was going to have to say goodbye to my mom. Every time the air turns crisp and cool and the leaves fall from the trees, I start to get the feeling something bad is about to happen and I feel so helpless. I don't like it.

So, last night as I lay in bed with my arms twined around two warm little bodies, helping them drift off to sleep, I tried to figure out how to deal with this. When I was younger, I would have invoked my faith and said, "My mom is in heaven (with my dad and brother) and they're happier there. It's selfish for me to be sad." But, I've lived a little since then and things are a bit more complicated than that. I don't have an easy answer because life is a combination of joys and sorrows, mundane and profound, gain and loss. Believing in something beyond this life doesn't mean the pain of saying goodbye just disappears. I miss my mom.

But, for today, I will acknowledge the ache and empty place that losing my parents has left in me. I will grieve when I need to grieve, sob when I need to sob and yell when I need to yell. But, then I will get up, look around my life and sing for joy at the beauty I see in it.

Just for today, I have an incredible, loving, strong, gentle,fun, wise (need I go on?) husband who is the match to my soul, the shade of my heart. Just for today, I have two lovely children, who teach me, amaze me, challenge me, make me laugh. Just for today, I have great friends, an extended loving family, a wonderful home, great job (complete with more truly amazing friends). Just for today, I will be grateful, I will smile and I will enjoy this day.

I may never shake the sadness that the winter brings, but as it becomes a part of me, I will learn to balance it with gratitude for the woman who brought me into this world and the woman she is helping me to be even now that she is gone.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.


  1. Monna, This post brought me to tears. Thanks for sharing your highs and lows with us.
    It shows so much strength.

    Love ya,

  2. I will be grieving today as well. This was the day my mom passed away three years ago. So much of what you said mirrors my feelings. What a blessing for each of us to have had such wonderful moms. Hugs!

  3. well put, Monna. You know I understand that pain and how we must (kicking and screaming) incorporate it all into our lives. But it happens. We do it. So life goes on.

    love you,


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