Doing grief

Have you ever heard of someone feeling alone in a room full of people?  That’s how it is for me sometimes.  I’ll be standing there, with the world swirling around me, and I can’t seem to hook in.  I can’t figure out how to engage.  Me.  A talker.  A connector.  An extrovert with a need to tell my story.  I can’t figure out what to say or how to say it.  So, I stand there with people.  And I feel alone.  Grief, for me, is active and passive twisted together.

I feel alone because my anchor is gone.  How silly does that sound?  How trite?  But, it’s true.  My mother, who was my anchor, is gone.  She left us, she left me, 9 years ago, and though I am so much better at handling it and I feel good so much of the time, sometimes, the movement of the world around me is no match for all the twisting inside of me.  I have to give in, I have to let myself feel it.  Normally, my emotions rotate slowly and I can prepare for what’s next.  I can brace myself.  But, recently, as they always do in January, the revolutions speed up.  I wish to slow them down again.  I wish to feel calm, to remember happy thoughts, and know that the pain, or sadness, or anger, or frustration, or hurt will go just as quickly as it’s come, but I can’t.  I feel stuck.  And alone.  

I used to think that the stages of grief were linear.  I used to think that if I could just make it to the end, I would be done and I would be “good.”  I used to be pissed at people around me who seemed to grieve better than I did.  I used to add insult to injury; compounding my pain with self-doubt and insecurities.  I still feel insecure about my grief.  I still feel like when these waves wash over me, will other people wonder when I will just get over it?  And then I wonder how to get over it.  I don’t know that I will.  I don’t know that I can.  If we’re all being honest, I don’t know that I want to.  I know if I get over it, that doesn’t mean I stop loving her, but………….I don’t know…that makes me uncomfortable too.  Honestly, I think there will always be sad days for me.  Sad times.  

A few months ago, when I was going a mile a minute and needed to talk, I picked up my phone, and then I put it down.  I wouldn’t have said it out loud at the time, but I picked it up to call my mom.  A sharp pain exploded in my heart and receded just as quickly.  I miss her.  As I sat there, staring at my phone, I wondered about her phone number… Do they recycle phone numbers?  What is the waiting period on the phone number of a dead mother?  And then since the phone debacle, I have gone down a rabbit hole of wondering.  I wonder what she would be doing now?  I wonder where she would live?  I wonder what she would think about my decision to work part time?  I wonder what kind of mother she would think I am?  I wonder if she would still make me chicken salad sandwiches with melted cheese even though I make them for my daughter now.  I wonder how she would have danced at my wedding or held my babies?   I wonder what she would say about the world, about me, about my friends, my family.  I wonder…a lot.  For me, that’s part of doing grief.

All the windows down

I’ve been thinking and talking about starting a blog for a few years now, but timing was always an issue. I got a new job, then had a baby, then had another baby, then (hysterically) got a new job. I’ve been working on finding a balance between life at home and life at work and never felt quite ready to devote myself to my writing as often as I felt would be necessary.

A few months ago, I had a bit of time to myself in the car. I started by listening to some NPR.  Then I called a friend. But on the way home, I plugged in my phone and turned on the tunes.  Bon Jovi and Billy Joel and Metallica and Katy Perry and Kesha were turned all the way up and the windows were all the way down. I drove faster than I maybe should have.  I sang at the top of my voice, badly, without shame. The wind rushing through the car was warm. It was fun. It felt amazing.

Arriving home, my routine resumed: babies, laundry, dinner, husband, lecture notes, grading, shower…rinse and repeat (forgive the pun). Now, don’t get me wrong- I love my life. My family and my work give me immense pleasure and self worth.  But I started craving something entirely mine, a creative outlet for all the swirling thoughts in my brain.

Enter blog. I wrote an essay a few months back and sent it to a friend. She suggested reviving my blog idea, and I decided to run with it. I started conceptualizing, planning, designing…and remembered almost immediately the feeling of freedom and release of that night- singing at the top of my voice with all the windows down.

As I embark on this journey, I will write about what I love- my family, my friends, cooking, reading, teaching and, from time to time, myself. I hope as I write, I find some freedom and some release. I hope you have something in your life that offers the same thing. If not, maybe you should write a blog?

Here’s to life with the wind in your hair.