For a few months Mom became obsessed with the movie Funny Girl. She'd watch it as many times as I would replay it. More than once that was three times in one day. There is a scene in which a delivery man is riding a bike through a neighborhood crowded with street stands and people. A group of young boys are running beside him announcing, "Telegram!" As he passes two older women one says, "That's life for ya. Somebodies dead." Mom and I always laughed.
That's life for ya.
Mom was 90. Other than some joint pain and Dementia she was in great shape. I knew she would die but I couldn't imagine how. And then she did. I'm not going to write about how. I may someday. What I will say is that it started with something so small. And then we were sliding faster and faster. And faster. Too fast.
Grief takes on so many shapes. For a few days it was visceral memory. Sometimes bone rattling. Sometimes it rises up out of silliness. Laughing and crying (as Joni says) it's the same release. Sometimes it feels like flu. My body just hurts and I need to be still. Sometimes it's rage.
I know it will pass. Or more accurately it will become a part of me. I won't always notice. I've tried to let go as fast as I can. And then I get stuck on something. I threw away her purse but I can't throw away her wallet.
While this was happening there was an election. For me it was kind of like stubbing your toe when you have a migraine. You know the toe hurts but the pain in your head is so much worse. I couldn't and still can't listen to news. My need for silence is desperate.
People tell me what a great job I did taking care of Mom. I needed to love somebody the way I loved her the last two years. I needed to love her that way. I feel like there were three mommies. The mommy when I was a little girl and we were so attached. The mommy of my teen and adult years who wanted to change everything about me and we broke apart. And the mommy of the last four or five years. So increasingly childlike and sweet that I would sometimes be startled. In the middle of the night she was often lucid. We had great conversations during a trip to the toilet.
I worry that I am going to hold on to the grieving process. I'm not sure why that worries me. As the days pass and become more ordinary I feel off balance. When something triggers a crying spell I feel grounded by it. But of course it's not even been two weeks.
It's the holidays. I cannot feel them. I feel like I'm holding my breath until they end. That all feels ... real. But I need to get back to the things. Swimming. Listening to music. News. New patterns will establish themselves in the weeks and months. The holidays will always have a shadow but I will enjoy them again. As much as I ever did.
That's life for ya.