Monthly Archives: May 2014

…And I’m Back

After the rain falls and the tears fall, way after the sinking feeling has settled and claimed residence, somehow the fog slowly begins to clear. It’s just a sliver at first, but it’s palpable, real, and it’s a breath of air intruding upon a space that has been suffocatingly sad and grievously mad and worthy of hibernation. Just like that, a crumb, a snippet, a fleeting something appears on the horizon of my heart. This is my passage: I return from rock bottom and float back up to the surface, ready to inhale and accept life again.

It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s the cycle of life, but the return comes as such a jolt and surprise each time. I am ok, I say aloud to myself, feeling as though I’ve come back from the jungle, because that is where I have been. I can go to work today and I will wear that new skirt. Simple, daily, auto tasks unfold with no forethought for others, but not for us. If breathing weren’t involuntary, some days that would not happen, either. Each one of those thoughts register for us, click-click goes the brain. It is okay to feel good, it’s acceptable to put on lipstick, it is alright to go exercise. I will meet my friend for coffee and invite people over. Yes, I will. And it is perfectly fine to indulge in something wondrously marvelous even though my son will never know that thrill.

And I’m back. The clouds in the sky look lovely this time, and maybe today’s formation is a message. The song on the radio doesn’t bring tears but sounds good, even though my boy would roll his eyes at my choice of music. I see the rolling green hills and want to go hiking, go to the park one Sunday, plan that day at the glass blowing factory. Oh, the things that I could accomplish if I felt this way every day. I breathe and am grateful for the good days, following the same mantra we did when he was alive.

Sometimes I try to force the better days – talk to a friend, visit the grandgirls on video chat, eat forbidden chocolate. It works only if they are at my disposal, snap-snap of the fingers, but makes things worse when they are not available, for which they always apologize later. If they had known I was in a funk, would they really leave work to come hug me or drive down the turnpike to make me smile? Or do they just want me to know that they love me still, even if they cannot be by my side right then, right away, right when I need them? Chunks of cocoa with nuts and stuff have to do, or sometimes not. Sometimes the TV chatters on while the laundry sits, supper isn’t made. And that suffices, too, to get through.

But coming back is a glorious thing, when it happens. As a young girl, I used to experience monthly cramps that were larger than my life. My mother doted, the doctor prescribed. And when the fog of pain cleared, there was nothing like it in the world, feeling good, feeling untethered, feeling free.

Now I am wise, and I know what even when I’m back, I will fall again into that abyss of grief, over and over. But I also know that I will climb out and rejoice my life. I have learned that there is hell here on earth, threaded through our life for no apparent reason. But on a much deeper, visceral level, I understand that there are layers of hell, some softer, others biting. We descended with diagnosis, but ascended with scans; dropped lower still with recurrence and this crap and that, yet ultimately, finally we rise to breathe air again and again.

I understand that there is always hope, no matter how small, how inconsequential. There is even hope on a deathbed, trust me. If I can accept my starting point of teetering on the age of heaven and earth, heaven and hell, there is a way to lift myself, grasping and gasping, from that well, a hole so frighteningly deep. The existence I knew is gone; the life I hoped for has been replaced. But with the double edges of all the swords I have borne, I’ve learned a magnificent thing: We can come back. We can live in the face of loss. I can go on without my son in spite of the fight with life and G-d I wage still. I can live and love and smile and be happy, sometimes. And I’m back.

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Happy Mother’s Day To Us

I am busy, distracted, and busy again.
Be engaged and present, I am told.
I clean and shop, back to work, stay busy.
I function, I’m busy, it’s good.

My mother-in-law’s life now threaded into ours.
My mother’s will be soon, too.
Love for my children and husband, so lovely.
Not the life it could or it should.

I carry him still, my 19-year old son.
Once in my womb, now in my heart.
Braided into my soul, inhaled into my essence.
And I keep busy, always moving.

A mother is a forever thing we say.
But how can I mother to him?
Yes, a mother to others, a grandmother, too
But –
There’s an empty room and unworn clothes.
Guitars unplayed, books laying fallow.
Courses not completed, a degree unfinished.
A never-to-be marriage and children, a life unlived.

I keep it at bay, underneath a busy life.
But it rises like bile at will.
Wraps a film around me, nothing is clear.
So I keep busy and busier still.

The outside belies the inside, nothing is neat.
The organs weep, the heart quickly tires.
The blood pulses green, the mind jealous of others.
So we stay busy and busy again.

From conception onward we hold keys to souls.
We diaper, we feed; we nurture and cherish and love.
When they slip and fall, we catch them.
We dry their tears, we hold them tight.
They are vulnerable and we are wise.
Life is good.

At each age and stage, we form and shape them.
We hope to love them enough.
We correct them and shout.
We teach them and speech them.
Remember to kiss them goodnite.

Endless days, rules and schedules.
Be gracious and courteous, polite and kind.
We pray for their future; we expect no less.
And believe we’ll see it all with age.

Days pass, time flies.
Our boy is no longer here.
Yet I am still his mother.
I miss him and love him.
And I told him we’d be okay.

I know I’m not at fault, but a voice inside says yes.
I should not have let him go unknown alone.
I wish I could have taken better care.
But I told him I’d be okay.

I hoped, I prayed, I loved him enough.
But the key and womb are gone.
And now it is he who is wise beyond his years.
Me, I’m now susceptible to life.

I keep busy, stay busy.
My boy forever in my heart.
The roles reversed, he’ll welcome me one day.
Happy Mother’s Day to us.