Before yesterday, the last bit of anything I wrote was pretty similar to yesterday's post, saying I needed to jump back in and do the things I was aching to do. https://blackberryandbee.blogspot.com/2021/11/oh-hey-hi.html
That was November 3, 2021. I talked about how I needed to do up Christmas and make it so good. The reason for that was twofold. Christmas in my home had been me doing all the things, trying to shop, wrap, decorate and bake my way into feeling how I used to feel at Christmas. My parents were Christmas elves, they did all the things (on a budget you all...a small budget), our 100 year old house was full of lights and baked goods and villages and greenery and the biggest tree ever. There was always a mountain of presents, mostly homemade despite their claims that next year they were cutting back. They didn't. After dinner on Christmas Eve people stopped by and the house seriously bulged and swayed with family, my parents friends, our friends and eventually our spouses and children. It was loud and never once did I feel alone or in any way left out or ignored. I needed that again. And my mom was starting to have some life changes that didn't allow her to create that giant Christmas in her own home, I had invited her to my house and my plan was to Christmas it up as far as I could make it go. I had started knitting her a beautiful lace scarf and was making lists. I had lights and greenery ordered to throw around. I wanted to give her the same kind of Christmas she gave us. I was excited to give her and also get back some Christmas love and spirit I was desperate to find through doing it for and with my mom. A holiday purpose and liferaft.
On November 5, I got a call in the morning that our mom was admitted to ICU and had a small ulcer they were watching. Nobody was in a panic but I felt like I should get there as I lived 5 hours away. I arrived at the hospital at about 3:30 and found my mom as I expected... kind of mad she was in the hospital at all , not overjoyed that we were making a deal of nothing and complaining so much about being bored. She claimed over and over that she feeling just fine and mostly pretty pissed off that she wasn't in charge of anything. I hung out with her for a couple of hours, talked to her nurse who laughed at how sassy and bossy she was and with promises to bring socks for her cold feet and cards to play Gin Rummy the next day since she couldn't get anyone to spring her, I gave her a kiss, told her I loved her dearly and left her with books and her glasses on the night stand. I said we would talk about the Christmas plans I had the next day. That was 6 pm. An hour later her body had a crisis and we lost her late that night.
I know we aren't the first adult children to lose a parent and I know that it is often shockingly sudden and I know there is no way to be prepared. Figuring out what needed to be done was a weird kind of buffer, planning things and getting things set up, arranging things, dealing with mortuaries and hospital aftermaths, picking dates and making calls to her friends and ours. Stunned silences and not even clear about how real it all is and how fast life had changed forever. My brothers and I in our separate barrage of shock and grief and disbelief but sitting feet apart not even knowing how to speak.
Let me say this part now because it's important to me. My two brothers and I have, I believe navigated this really difficult bit of life with what I believe is the utmost grace and in doing so have worked to honor our parents, the way they raised us, the life and attributes they gave us as well as the way they lived and loved each other. We had a herculean task ahead of us in the clearing out of our family home of 59 years with so much stuff that had memories attached to everything. That's for another time. But I'm so proud of us, I love those two men so deeply and I am grateful for the time we got to spend connecting as grown ups , working together and forging relationships that are made of granite. They have with their wives reminded me that I am loved and valued. I am grateful beyond words.
This for me was when the reckoning began. When it became unbelievably clear how desperately short life is and how uncertain each day can be. It was the time to come to terms with my own stuff . I am my parents only daughter and they loved me so, I wasn't taking care of their girl. I was freefalling trying to find a branch to grab onto before I hit the ground. I had lost my pieces, my spirit, my spunk and my hope. Life is short and it was time to stop abandoning myself for anyone else's comfort. I have a whole lot of shame and guilt that goes with what I accepted and normalized in order to get along and make it look like I was good. There was a walk I had to walk and hopefully not too late... this is where it began. Sitting under the redwood trees at my childhood home, I let the light in, I found my lost pieces, I stopped feeling hopeless and helpless. It was past time to take charge of my own well being without waiting for permission from anyone.I think we all have our things we need to tackle and sort out, I think the beauty of life is that the moments when the lights come back on in the dark cave of worry and wondering ...those are the moments we start to believe that maybe just maybe it is going to be okay but it's a walk up a steep narrow path to the top of the hill. But I'm pretty sure that the view is worth it. Walking our walk, holding up the light for the ones behind us and in front of us, trusting that this is not for nothing. Even if we just get stronger legs in the process and learn to breathe deeper, we will have stories to tell from the top of the hill.