my mom greets me like a small child. Her eyes light up and she is filled with such love for me.
This is what flowed beneath the layers of suffering that was my mom- that was our relationship.
I hated her a lot. And I believed she hated me the same.
We must be careful who we deem unworthy of love but worthy of hate and abandonment. We must not dismiss a family as dysfunctional or a person damaged and leave it there as if it/they held nothing else.
I really know this.
For there were many necessary years I felt anger and betrayal- sometimes rightly so- and the only way I could function in our dysfunction was to protect myself.
And yet, now…
I feel I am a good daughter for sticking with her- for staying in the process, the journey that is ours.
I understand I needed to love her but couldn’t and wouldn’t and instead exchanged vulnerability for codependency (unknowingly of course).
I continue to play this out within my marriage.
And yet, now
I see the possibility that what flows beneath the wounds of my suffering might redeem me
I drive to the store. Not for snacks, but for donuts and coffee.
I think of my mom. Likely not an actual lover of football, although she claimed to love the Vikings. But more like just wants to be a part of life, of whatever is going on.
Today she may or may not have the super bowl on. And if it is, she won’t watch.
My mom has dementia. She sits alone—except on the days some of us in the family get to visit her.
I reminisce about past super bowls. It was all a party to her. I cry for the woman she was. The woman I lost.
I get my coffee. My donuts. I find when I get home, I don’t want them as much as I did before the tears fell.
Walking through the front door of my home, I understand I feel, something I have noticed lately. I feel. Tears fall, and not from a place of pity for myself or cyclical suffering, but from somewhere real.
Driving home from the store, I understand I can feel something other than what has come from a 33-year relationship (perhaps, we will get into that another time).
The year 2021— it said to me: I will be bittersweet.
In my current home, it is a wooded trail— the Mississippi backwaters on one side and a junk yard on another. I’ve worked to ignore the latter. Although I appreciate the trees and the river, this trail is my least favorite of all the ones I’ve walked. And so I found another one that goes mostly through my neighborhood to a dirt road circling an abandoned lot edged with pine trees. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken to sitting under one of the pines, the one that now has a sign that reads: No Trespassing. Also ignored.
But today I needed the backwater trail. It is a short trail, made a bit longer if I take the narrow, tree root, moss filled one along the rivers edge. I took this route. On my way back to the neighborhood I noticed another trail with fresh black dirt and took steps. To my surprise it extended beyond the trail I have known and further, extended not only my walk but my time with the trees. As it ended in a familiar place, I felt grateful for the creation of a path I had wanted since I moved here.
During COVID-19, other than moving from panic to calm, panic to calm, I’ve observed people in my life and the ones I see on my essential runs, and notice how they are responding to this pandemic. My father, for instance, finds hope in the blades of green grass sprouting in a newly dug out hole in the ground. Another laughs loudly with the gas station attendant saying, “Well you know we are all going to get it.” My mother texts daily from her assisted living facility, “Is everyone at home now?” Or today, “Prince Charles has the virus.” Sadly, others have become more self-centered, ego-centric, individualistic and shut down.
As for me—today, on my walk I found a new path that shows me the life road I am currently on. The soil is fresh. It has not been traveled yet. It comes as a surprise, and yet offers what I have been seeking for a very long time. It tells me if I venture to take a new path, even while things are falling apart and feel unstable, I will arrive in a familiar place, feeling grateful and changed.
I wish for all us to be guided and changed for the better, while knowing there is loss and unimaginable grief, known and unknown to us.
It’s so easy to distract from what we should not. It’s so easy to turn the page when we, instead, need to take a minute to grieve. My best friend died on my father’s birthday in 1999. She stood up … Continue reading →
On December 11, 2015 my father lost his wife. Below are the words, images, lessons and teachings from his experience…..
There is an American Indian phrase that is used to designate the person who walks beside another, through out their life; it is, “the one who walks beside.” This simple expression is clearly referring to a spouse, a best friend, a brother, a sister, etc., who, regardless of the kind of conditions or circumstances that surround the beloved person, will walk by his or her’s side. This kind of relationship exudes characteristics of loyalty, love, support, protection, respect, selflessness: my wife would say, “they are attached at the hip.”
This phrase accurately describes the relationship my wife and I had. She was the one who walked beside. I say “was” because my wife passed away, unexpectedly Dec. 11, 2015. My wife, Mary Lou, was not feeling well after Thanksgiving. She complained of stomach pains, thinking she had an urinary infection, which she had had several times previous. We went to urgent care, and she was diagnosed with a severe urinary infection, and was given three antibiotic pills. Mary Lou seemed satisfied that the pills would cure her infection, as they had on previous occasions, and she would be fully recovered in three days. The next day, Mary Lou wasn’t feeling any better and complained of lower back pain and a severe headache. We went to see an orthopedic doctor who took x-rays of her lower back with the result that, other than some arthritis her lumbar area was fine. The next day Mary Lou was getting weaker. and we decided to go to the hospital emergency facility. She was so weak that she could not put on her socks and shoes, I had to put them on her feet. Continue reading…..
*They aren’t the same cries of my adolescence where I’d sit in bed listening to slow music, feeling sorry for myself. No, these cries do not spawn from that space of pity. They come from some place else.
I want more. I have more. I seek relief. I have relief. I ponder destiny. I realize destiny. Nothing makes sense any longer. What I had is no longer good enough. I’m lost. Then found. I cry these deep cries. When I take breaths, I remind myself of a baby who keeps gasping after a painful outburst.
Where is this place I have come? Does anyone know it? Who am I now after losing so much, and feeling as though I’ve gained so little? Where do I begin to let the river flow again? My heart is bleeding out. I miss everything. And, there is that cry again.*
*random words in the moment of one of those deep cries. Don’t even know if it makes sense, but there it is. Maybe someone can relate. Maybe not, but it’s out now.