Sometimes I wonder just when I began to bury and just how deeply I buried my feelings, my thoughts. When I moved to Florida in 2001 I did it to be with Mom and I wanted to be out of New York. My sister, brother and I were all concerned though not overly so about Mom’s health and her living on her own. My moving down there was the most realistic and appropriate for the three of us as Shawn and John’s life was in New York as was his livelihood and David’s life at that time was in New Jersey with his family. And, like I said I wanted out of New York.
For the first few years my living with Mom was more as her companion yet that began to change over time after she had a bad fall in her apartment hitting her head on a corner wall and being concussed severely: just how severely, neither one of us realized until a few weeks a few months a few years later. Mom subsequently had a couple of major TIA’s (“transient ischemic attacks: neurological events with the signs and symptoms of a stroke, but which go away within a short period of time - also called mini-strokes”); and a stroke. We were fortunate in that she didn’t have any lasting physically debilitating effects from them. But, the emotional, mental, and even the intellectual traumas were insidious as they slowly began to eat into her being, her brain – though never her soul.
Eventually the companionship we shared developed more into my taking care of her especially during the last 2 – 2 ½ years of her suffering. I say suffering because her life was being drawn out of her. Slowly at first until the time she became – forgive me for putting it this way – less and less recognizable: not physically but in every other way. It’s not really the word I want, but it does describe so much of what was happening – gradually less gradually and eventually gradual was no more. (Mom did have a CNA come in for about 8 hours during the day to help take care of her.)
Now more than ever I sometimes sit and wonder did I start repressing the anticipation of grieving, the knowing and refusing to acknowledge let alone accept what mom was going through – what I was going through though for me I didn’t think in terms of mortality. Was I being selfish in those thoughts, is that maybe why I repressed them. I honestly don’t know for sure. I am just trying to understand the upheavals, the waves of absolute sadness emptiness and loss that punch me in my heart – anytime of the day or night.
Mom was always so brave, such a “trouper” we used to call her. Her world, her life, her love revolved around Dad, my sister my brother, me and our pets (we always had pets, they were family): the same was so with Dad. So much, actually most, of what mom did she did for us and with us in mind before anyone: we always came first. Don’t misunderstand me: mom was not perfect yet she was an extraordinary woman. While we were growing up, friends used to tell me how lucky we were to have the parents we had: sometimes it was more a question - a rhetorical one - of did we know just how lucky we were. I say rhetorical because our home was where people wanted to be. Our home was the gathering place for family and friends. My aunts and uncles were always wonderfully warm and hospitable as well and we loved to visit them, but there was something more in our home: there just was.
I’m sitting on my bed now and remembering the oh so many times Mom would bring a homeless puppy home, and then try and find them homes. Mom wasn’t allowed to have pets when she was growing up, but that didn’t deter her from trying. And, she made up for it from the time my sister and I were born (obviously before that too) up to the morning she left me. Dad loved animals too and had dogs in Hong Kong long before he met mom so in their “match being made in heaven” they so shared a love of animals: a love we have too.
I suppose today I am sharing a little history with you: a light history but a little to give you a glimpse into the whats and the whys of whatever it is I do share with you as you read this. Trying to understand, to recognize, what comes before we lose a loved one. I think it can maybe help us live with and through our grief, our hurt, our pain. It’s maybe how our intellect can help to allay the utter force, the loss, of what becomes a part of our lives.
I think Hellen Keller’s words say it beautifully, “What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
I have more history, if you will, to share with you, but that will be for other times: times interspersed with our grief, with our loss, with our living each day for tomorrow.
One of my dearest cousins has been reading my postings and found this translation of a song she wanted me to share with you. I hope you find it as and soulful as we do.
Yesterday is buried, mourn it on the morrow.
Here is but ephemeral bliss, ruin it not with sorrow.
Grab yourself a bottle, while you still can swallow.
You wont cop a single drop in the world to follow.
Brothers wail & howl, let your beard be wild.
That's the way to dance away sorrow & exile.