Saturday, December 5, 2009

and 2 months later...

Since my last post, and almost 9.5 months since mom's death, I've officially expeirenced the worst day yet. It didn't happy on Easter, not on my birthday, not on mom's birthday, not on mom and dad's anniversary, not even on Thanksgiving. It happened on a random innocent Friday. December 4 - my horrible, no good, very bad day.
They tell you in the grieving process that you go through a season of anger, having a certain level of bitterness at life, the situation, the death etc. I honestly thought too highly of myself, thinking that I had already experienced this bitterness, but quickly realized that God was good, and the bitterness left - UNTIL yesterday. I haven't been so mad as much as I was this day. So mad at God for having a brain tumor in the will of my mother and for hurting our family, so mad at mom for actually falling and dying to that tumor to leave us all alone to live and suffer without her. Because of her leaving so many things have changed, and I think that it's becoming harder and harder to deal with those changes. I was so mad I felt like going to her grave and kicking that ridiculously expensive piece of granite and knocking it into billions of pieces. Thankfully I didn't, because I'd have a super angry father and probably be in jail for defacing property of the dead. But I sure was angry. When we're angry, it just filters to everyone else and causes frustrations among everybody - raised voices, words misspoken, and hearts hurt. So that's how my morning started at 11 a.m. The tears began. Let me tell you how they kept going....
Most adults remember their childhood years around this time of year and recount the joy they had as they went and got their Christmas tree, or they decorated, or did this or that tradition. Well, decorating wasn't my most favorite thing, for several reasons: 1 - mom had a decoration for every piece of furniture in the house (even including the barstools) and we had to get it ALL out; 2 - the decorations never dwindled or stayed the same, they always got added to, because of sales or mom's change in taste; 3 - I didn't hang the ornaments on the tree good enough for everybody (maybe because I was shorter and didn't believe in putting them on the back of the tree for no one to see); 4 - the absolute chore it was to "clean up" after Christmas - we all dreaded it! Perhaps there was one good thing about decorating that silly tree - the tinsel! My sister and I used to fight over it, and it would make mom and dad so angry and would stay around the house for weeks after we cleaned up (kind of like Easter basket confetti - always everywhere). I'm certain they used tinsel to bribe me into their schemes of decorating. For that reason, all of Jeremy and I's Christmas decorations are kept nice and neat in one large storage container and a cardboard box that holds my hand-me-down snowman cookie jar. Our tree is 3.5 feet tall (the same one we used the first year we got married and have used ever since - we can't stand real trees with our allergies) and our topper - well, it isn't much of a topper. A good portion of our decorations are gifts from years past, mostly from church members (who, I say, have great taste). It takes typically about 2.5 hours to transform our house into "Christmas" and just over an hour to clean it up. I LOVE this - especially because Jeremy likes to put forth as little effort as possible in the whole decorating thing. This year was definitely difficult. I hemmed and hawed over ornaments that mom had given me, some that were her mothers, and I cried over my collection of Santa Clause figures (something mom had collected all throughout the years) knowing that one day my children would do the same, and it just didn't seem like the "spirit" was in me to decorate this year.
Well, on my horrible, no good, very bad day I was set to make it over to dad's. I had been telling him all week that I would help him with the decorations because I knew if it was hard for me, it would be tremendously even harder for him at his house. Thankfully, he had already set up the tree and put the lights on so all I had left to do was put the ornaments on and lay some other random decorations out. He had gone out for the evening, so I would be alone - something I thought would be a good thing. BAD IDEA. One look at the tree and I balled. I lost it, completely sobbing in the floor thinking of what a huge mistake I had made and how I couldn't leave without doing something. So, I finally got up enough umph to open up the first (of what would be at least 4 boxes) of ornaments. One look and I started laughing hysterically. I don't know if it was the amount of santa/snowmen ornaments, the silk red and white poinsettias, or the construction paper cut-out bell with a picture of me in my Coca-cola shirt when I was in Kindergarten (a season of the "rough years" when I had bangs and was missing my two front teeth). all of these ornaments (only 10 of which were just plain "balls") I had to handle and place strategically on the tree so that I wouldn't get yelled at for my skills. I did put some on the back (the most ugly ones :)), put mom's mothers' balls up front and together, and finished it off with plastic icicle like things and those silly poinsettias (which I give dad TOTAL permission not to use this year). WHEW - that was over. I had kind of gotten lost in it all, remembering the times as a little girl of dancing around the living room, waiting for dad to do the lights and sis to hang the ornaments (I don't have too many memories of mom actually decorating the tree), and carrying the tinsel ready to do my job. Some of those ornaments have been around for years, some I remember mom bought just last year. So then, it was on to the home decorations....
Holly garland - that always went across the entertainment cabinet, setting Teddy Ruxpin on the other side of the tree, then by the fire place, only to return him back to his original spot by the front door, searching through the 4 designs of table placemats to decide the "tablescape", and then the stockings. whoa - the hardest year! I hung each one up (probably not in the right place, so dad you can fix that - but you're probably glad I just hung them up!), thanking dad for writing the names of who's stocking belonged to who. See, a few years back, mom started buying the stockings for all of us with different "pictures" cross-stitched on them. The pictures were somewhat significant of who we were and that meant we didn't need our names on them - unless we couldn't remember which stocking was whos! Mom had one with the Santa and "ho ho ho!" on it because of her love for Santas, Sis's has doves on it (because she brings peace????) and mine had a beautiful violin, how fitting. Well, Grace and Jeremy and Jeff - they all have theirs too. So, I had 7 to hang up last night. But one was mom's and there wasn't one for little Sarah. The mantel felt so incomplete and I even took mom's down, then put it back up several times. I just couldn't leave it down. Mom's stocking had to still be hung with care. (I wonder if Santa will still fill it and then we can get all of the loot? Kidding, only kidding.)
With a little runthrough with the vacuum, my work was done, 2 hours later. I turned off all of the lights (with the tree still lit) and I ended my time there the way it had started. I sat down in front of the tree ("that didn't even have ANY presesnts under it" as mom would always say) and started to cry again. I miss my mother, and it's not getting any easier. I miss having her to talk to and I miss calling her when I'm sick. I miss "my favorite chicken" the way she used to make it and I miss the spastic-ness she had when Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around. Plainly, I miss her. Thanksgiving wasn't Thanksgiving this year, and I'm certain that Christmas will be just as different. We'll still have our usual traditions (Christmas Eve family fun at dad's, Christmas morning at dad's, breakfast with the family at the grandparents, etc etc), but those days already seem empty. But boy am I thankful that Christmas wasn't celebrated because I had a's because I have a father who's love for me is such a constant, that loves me when I'm angry, when I'm bitter, when I'm sad, when I'm frail - all of which I was yesterday.
I drove home at 7:15 p.m. last night after decorating to attend a neighborhood party, so I knew I had to dry up. I had officially cried (off and on, of course) for over 8 hours. Absolutely unstoppable. I can't remember crying like that - even in the midst of mom's death. Who knew 9.5 months later would host the most horribly, no good, very bad day yet?!
I was in Walgreens the other day waiting on some medicine and went to the card section - I found this one as I was browsing (don't ask me why I was looking at cards for my mother?!) Sometimes they're cheesy, but I liked this one. Merry Christmas, mom!
She believes in me, laughs with me, and helps me cope.
She advises me, inspires me to dream, and to hope.
She has touched my life in ways I can't begin to say
She is still a gift I treasure every single day.


Terry Jackman said...

I promise the days will get easier....but there will always be days like yesterday. My mom died when I was 17 (38 years ago) and every once in a while, I wish she were alive so I could ask questions - even now. But God is good to bring other mature women into my life to guide me. I'm praying for you and your family during this season!
Terry Jackman

Anonymous said...

It's good to read about your struggles. What a special gift to be able to transfer these fickle, fleeting moments into script on a page, something that can be shared, remembered, and given over to reflection. I miss your mother, too, and it has been years since I last spoke with her. I am glad that you have this blog and I'm glad I stumbled upon it.
Thank you, friend!

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