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Friday, May 31, 2013

Tears—are there different kinds?

This Sunday, June 2nd is my son, Robert’s birthday. This will be the seventh birthday without him. Robert was an only child so his birthday became a week-long celebration in our house.  This week I have been remembering those days along with Robert’s infectious smile as a toddler and his big booming voice as a young man.  There are few people who can understand why I still need this time to stop and honor his life, and yes, to cry.  The tears are different now after seven years, somehow.  They are not the searching, frantic tears of early grief but are now the slow, knowing tears of loss and love and meaning.
David Sheff, a professional writer, wrote a book about his experiences with his son’s drug addiction.  In the book, called Beautiful Boy, Sheff writes, “We are connected with our children no matter what.  They are interwoven into each cell and inseparable from every neuron.  They supersede our consciousness, dwell in every hollow and cavity and recess with our most primitive instincts, deeper even than our identities, deeper even than ourselves.”  This was my experience as a mother throughout my son’s life.  The unconditional love and connection that was there when he was alive continues even after I am left to live without him.  For that gift I cry.

I leave you with this quote from Washington Irving, “There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother's Day, again

Mother’s Day--I tell myself that it is a made-up holiday.  That it is just a way to sell cards, flowers, and help the restaurants make more money.  But—the build-up for Mother’s Day seems to be all around me.  It is in every advertisement I see for almost any product—“Buy your mom drain cleaner for Mother’s Day.  She will thank you.”  Okay, so maybe not, but it seems to be so prevalent.  With it goes my thoughts that I “use to be” a mother.  It was the best job I have ever had.  I took such pride in being a mom.  I only had one kid so I had to do it right the first time—and boy, I felt like I did.  Maybe I was too proud, maybe I bragged too much, maybe I shouldn’t have been so happy…

Now I only have the memories of being a mom and the knowledge that I will never hear that name used for me again.  I’m not someone’s mom, I won’t be someone’s mother-in-law, and I won’t be someone’s grandma.  So I have had to re-invent myself because for 24 years I had defined myself by that term-Mom.  When it was taken away from me I didn’t know who I was any longer.  Even when everything else in my life was a mess I still had that.  I tried to remember who the person was before I became a mom and it was impossible because I had been a mother, and I had lost a child, and it had forever changed me.  Then only eleven months after I lost one identity—that of mother—I lost another identity, daughter, when my mother died.  I was always very close to my mom, being the youngest child and the only girl.  I loved that my son had such a special relationship with my mom.  In less than a year they were both gone and I could no longer define myself as mother or daughter.  Who was I? Where was I?  I could not go back, I could only move forward.

Most of the time I am able to make the steps and move forward, but there are these little things, reminders of who I use to be, that all seem to happen for me around the same time.  These “anniversary reactions” pile up and I work harder at making the steps, one by one.  First in April was the anniversary of the crash, now May brings Mother’s Day, the beginning of next month is my son’s birthday.  Then for a while I will have some rest from these triggers.  When fall comes I begin new ones that carry over into the holidays.  It is the way my life is now and I mark the passage of time by these anniversaries and then take another step forward.