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.

The real happiest place on earth

We all have places, foods, or activities that remind us of our childhood.  These nostalgic feelings hit in waves as we enjoy our throwbacks and we feel good- safe, loved, comforted.  I know this may sound silly, but a grocery store fulfills all three of the above categories for me.168s

As a child, my mother would take my brother and me to Wegman’s in Pittsford, NY every weekend to go grocery shopping.  If you’ve been reading, it wasn’t often like the Trader Joe’s experience I recently had, though I’m sure one or both of us threw a tantrum at some point over a sugary cereal we were told to put back.  When we were little, my mom would get us each a cookie and we would chatter along through produce and dairy items.  When we got older, she would give us each an item from her list to go get.  We would race off, running back to the cart with the item in hand, ready for the next challenge.

The place, the food, the atmosphere; it all became a part of my childhood.  I looked forward to visiting Wegman’s when I was home from college.  I told people about the store when they visited us in Rochester: “you have to visit!”  166350_10100163932469819_464579_nWhen my (then) fiancé and I were looking for a less expensive alternative to the crazy wedding cakes, I called upon Wegman’s to provide 200 cupcakes for our guests.  They also created a “wedding cake” out of a cupcake that we cut- everyone raved about our cake.  And when our babies were born, we made special pilgrimages to Wegman’s to introduce the next generation to the “real” happiest place on earth.10247505_10102782631451069_546923500_n

So, it should come as no surprise that when we were planning our son’s first birthday and a cake was needed, I called upon the Wegman’s near us.  Now, when I say “near,” I mean 45 minutes away…but I was happy to drive it.  The thing is, when I walk into Wegman’s, I have a feeling of being home.  We all crave that feeling from time to time.  Some of us grow up, grow a family and live in the same place; some of us move far away, but no matter where we are, we want to feel the comfort and love of being home every now and then.  Say what you will, but I love the place. It is a little piece of home even when I’m far away.