Sunday, May 10, 2015

For KJ, On Your First Mother's Day Without Your Mom

Dear KJ--
Today sucks. I searched for a more eloquent way to put that, but everything falls short of how much today, well... Sucks. I know it. You know it. Anyone who has loved and lost their mom knows it.

You have been on my mind so much lately-- a fact helped, I'm sure by all the little reminders of your mom that I see in my own life. Gentle nudges from the beyond, I'm sure. I can almost hear your mom's voice saying "reach out to KJ, she is having a hard time," the way she did when she was still here.

I have no advice that will make today, or tomorrow, or the rest of your life without your mom easier. I'm not going to tell you that your mom wouldn't want you to be sad. True, no mother wants her child to feel pain, nor would you mom want you to spend the rest of your days in perpetual grief. But, your mom also knew the crushing pain of losing a parent she loved. She knew what it felt like to have the whole world go sideways for a while. She knew what it was like to grieve when also trying to deal with physical illness and all the crap life decides to throw at you because life is a jerk and insists on continuing even when you want it to stop. She wouldn't tell you not to be sad. She would instead give you love and support and understanding and, truth be told? A couple glasses of good wine.

Sweet girl, you have had the rug pulled out from under you and the pain of hitting the ground so unexpectedly is immense. You look around and feel like not only did someone pull the rug out from under you, but they stole all the damn furniture too! And all you are left with is this big empty room. And none of your well intentioned friends and family seem to understand the pain of being in that room. Sure, all of us who loved your mom now have an empty room/library/wine cellar with your mom's name on it, but no two rooms are the same. No one knows how big or small someone's grief room is. And while we can empathize we don't fully understand.

But here is what I do know. This too will pass. Clich├ęd? Yes. True? Also yes. This does not mean that there will ever be a time you don't miss your mom so deeply that you think your heart might split in two. It means that tomorrow, you will wake up and, CONGRATULATIONS!!! You survived your first Mother's Day without your mom. And you'll survive all the other shitty milestones this year will offer. And you'll survive all the other milestones that follow the first year. And you WILL get through this.

I promise you, that even now as you feel crushed by the weight of living in this world without your mom and trying to figure  out who you are without her here, you will eventually make your way out of the empty room and into the hallway. That door will always be marked mom. Eventually, you will be able to walk down the hall, see that door and have it not knock the wind out of you (though it still will from time to time, because, as I mentioned earlier, life is a jerk). Someday in the not so distant future, you will pass the door and feel only a small fraction of the pain you feel right now. But you will always, every day, pass that door and think of your mom.

You will feel her loss, always. But oddly enough, there will also come a day when you can open that Mom door, walk into that empty room, remember what used to be there, and not altogether lose it.

But that is someday. Right now you haven't made it to the hallway yet. You are sitting there and feeling all the everything. So for now, feel all the sad and the mad. Acknowledge the empty. But don't let it blot out the joy. Or the hope. Because banking on joy and hope is what will help you inch your way to the door.

And remember that however bleak and empty the room feels, you have all these people here who love the hell out of you and will help you find your way to the hallway when you are ready. I'm one of them. I'm poking my head in the room, offering flowers, a hug, and this picture of Cam Fowler:

You will get through this. I promise.

I love you.


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