Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Adjustment Process

Until you have been through losing your mother, you cannot possibly fathom what it is like. Life changes. What you have known your whole life, is suddenly a cherished memory. One that you find yourself wishing you were back inside of. Some holiday traditions change and some remain the same.  But they are never actually the same ever again.  The focal point of the family will now forever be missing from the picture.  The one who married my father, gave birth to me and my brother, raised me, taught me everything I know, the one who became my best friend early on, the one I shared everything with no matter how big or how small, and the one who was my biggest cheerleader.  The woman who loved me no matter what and loved me like no one else ever could. She was my shoulder to cry on, and the one who held me when times got tough. She was my sounding board and constant source of advice and wisdom.  She was the one who shaped me and my personality.  She taught me to be kind, gentle and forgiving.  She is the one who taught me acceptance of everyone, no matter the differences.  She was was the one who instilled in me my morals, values and love of God. She was the strongest woman I have ever known.  No matter how much pain she was in, she always had a good attitude, and her sense of humor. Grace under pressure.  She had a blessed life, but her cross to bear was her health.  Few people know what she actually went through, besides our family and the doctors.  But that is a whole seperate series of blogs!
   So this Easter, I really missed my mother.  It was the first holiday, that my family has not spent together. My dad had to work, and my brother and sister in law took their almost three week old son to church.  We had planned to go to church with my husband grandparents, but plans changed.  We discovered the easter basket with the three year old, and ate breakfast.  Then it hit me.  The overwhelming grief.  The lump in my throat, biting my lip, so my three year old will not see me cry on easter morning, empty aching hole in my chest, missing my mother on this first Easter without her, pain and sorrow that we call grief.  Easter was her favorite holiday.  When she was a state level president of a fraternal social service organization, her year's entire theme was based on the Easter story.  Her fun symbols were bunnies and crosses.  She loved Easter.
   This is the first Easter when I did not spend time with my mother. This was the first year that I couldnt shop with her for the toddler's easter dress.  The first year I couldn't see mom's excitement at taking my baby for Easter pictures, and at opening granny and grandpa's easter basket. My mother absolutely loved buying my daughter dresses and dressing her up.  She loved my baby so very much.  She spoiled her rotten.  That is the way it is suppose to be. The way of grandmothers and granddaughters.  My baby was her pride and joy.  My baby will never again get to experience that love firsthand.  That breaks my heart.
   My mother's mother, Nana, and I have always been close.  My Nana and Pawpaw always called me their third daughter.  My mom shared an extremely close best friend relationship with her mother, and I with both of them.  These relationships are some of my most treasured things.  My baby will never have that with my mother and I as she grows up.  We were all very lucky in that we got to share these once in a lifetime relationships.  I am heartbroken.  My mother died too early.  Daily life had been a struggle for her for a long time. I know that she is in no more pain, no more suffering, and that she is rejoicing in heaven with her God. People tell me different ways to deal and cope with my grief, with this adjustment process, but I can only deal with it my own way.  My husband always knows what I need.  He had a daddy daughter morning while mommy "napped."  In reality, I sobbed my eyes out for a good hour.  I finally calmed down, only to start leaking again.  I then fell asleep for a little while before we had to go to my huisband's family shindig.
   So I decided, in the vein of being exactly like my mother, that we were taking my daddy Easter dinner, a card, and a chocolate bunny from my daughter to her grandpa. So boy was he suprised when he woke up to dinner in the fridge!  I crept in and watched him sleep for a quick minute.  I cannot begin to fathom his pain and suffering at the loss of his soul mate.  They did everything together.  They were one of the few married couples that actually enjy each other, and took care of each other.  Like I said, I cannot begin to fathom the depths, from his side.
   At bedtime that night, I started crying again.  So I went to bed, put the baby to bed, and had another good cry.  I miss my mother so much.  I am great at dealing and at compartmentalizing.  Some days I just cannot avoid the inevitable breakdowns.  No one can.  Everything I have known and been able to depend on my entire life, is now forever changed. Every day I miss my mother, and think of her all throughout the day. 
   I was raised in one of those familys where my Nana and Pawpaw's house was the gathering place for all big huge family holiday celebrations.  Everyone came, brought their kids, and it was a very loud, loving atmosphere.  Everyone was welcome.  My family has always had the attitude of the more the merrier.  Everyone caught up, watched sports, the kids played, and my grandmother had to be dragged out of the kitchen.  It was a family affair.   My husband's family is the same way.  I am glad.  I miss our big family shindigs.  After my grandfather passed, the celebrations moved to my parents house.  A year after his death, my grandmother moved in with my parents.  Some other family came and went over the years, most were now doing their own family celebrations, and were too busy to all get together.  My aunt and her kids moved to Charlotte, NC.  My uncle and his family kept expanding and they had their own family celebrations.  My mom and dad and nana became our holiday celebration.  A year and a half before my mother left this earth, she moved to Charlotte with my aunt and uncle.  She could not take care of my mother anymore.  It was time for someone to take care of her.  My poor mother could not.  My father was busy taking care of my mother and working.  My aunt now takes great care of my Nana.  I miss her everyday too.  My mother always said she did not think she would ever survive the loss of her mother.  I always agreed with her.  She had to deal with that loss to an extent, when my Nana moved to Charlotte.  But thank goodness she never had to deal with her dying.  It seems like my whole life, my mother was training me to be strong enough to live without her.  She made me strong enough to endure what she feared the most, losing her mother.
    I am, without a doubt, just like my mother.  A fierce lover, fighter, strong, emotional woman who takes care of those around her, with a strong sense of family.   I will raise my daughter the same way my mother raised me.  I will never let my baby forget my mother.  I promised her that I would never let her forget her Granny.
   So holidays come one at a time.  I am taking one at a time, surviving one at a time. It is rather unnerving and quite saddening to look back over the disassembly of our family holiday traditions.  Again, there is change happening as we speak, set in motion by my mother's passing.  Everything changes.  That is the one constant in life.  I just wish I still had my mother here with me now.  I wish that had not changed.  But it did, so now I find myself in a constant everyday adjustment process.  I think everyday for the rest of my life will be an adjustment.  It seems sometimes like it gets worse over the time span of the first year, not better.  It has been four and a half months now, since she was with me.  I think the shock has worn off.  I still find myself in days of disbelief.  I know she is gone but I cannot believe it.  I was there with her every step of the way, and it's still a crazy concept to me to be without my mother.  So it goes. Until next time...