The chickens sit in their coop under a warm sun. They cannot spend time on my grief. Their work is peaceful and their nature happy. They have all lost their moms yet their soldier on. They never got to know the love of a mom who softly cradled them. I did and today that’s the source of mourning in drops and tidal waves depending on the moment.
What is harder than losing your mom? The only thing I can think of is losing her by inches.
She called; her voice shattered, the fear black and consuming as a landslide covering all but her small pleas as she calls out hoping to find another voice to pull her out from under the rocks and dirt which smashed her heart.
Mommy is frightened every day now. She fears the man in the basement, the woman who tries to steal her clothes,the person who will lift her children out of their beds as they sleep and the one who wants her dead.
They lurk in the shadows and whisper. They got her dog and are coming for her. She does not know why or who they are but they started coming a few years back and she had to quit her job because they set her up, made her look bad. Then they stepped up their campaign of hurt to pain from the hole they are drilling through her after her husband of more than fifty years died a few months back. They came in after he passed away and took pictures of him, they would not let her grieve until a priest came and set them straight and told them their jokes were not funny.
She is calling me, calling all her children not to protect her but warn us. She is terrified now and can’t sleep. She goes out at night and tries to vanquish them and her fear but it never works. They are not brave enough to take her face on.
I tell her as she is crying; “No mommy, I’m fine. We are fine. No one will hurt your children. No one will come for you. You are safe in your house.” She believes a stranger came in her house to steal her clothes. She feared for her grand daughter and great grand daughter visiting her and asleep in the next room. I tell her; ” The clothes were stacked up to go to Goodwill, you forgot mommy. Sometimes you forget because losing daddy is too much right now. You’re going to be okay. Don’t hold on, don’t chase either, just breathe with me mommy. There, that’s good.”
Then she is laughing. She tells a story about swimming on the lake. My brother was in the water, under the water, and all she could do was scream. “What kind of mother was I?” I tell her; “A good mom, Mark is fine now. He’s an old man and a good swimmer. You did just fine. Every mom has moments when they wish they were stronger.” Then she laughs and starts over until she gets frightened about that man in the basement.
I see her under glass in a room of scary pictures and shadows, she is pulling on the door, pounding on the walls, asking in her sweet and understated way as she cries; “Honey, can you help me here? I think I need my little girl. Well I guess you’re all grown up now. I’m proud of you.” I see her but can’t open the door as if she is caught in a snow globe I can’t break open. It is torture.
She is so afraid yet the mother in her remains in tact, she wants me to feel better. How brutal, how true, how helpless I feel. How can I save her? I am desperate. Can I pull her from that room? Is there a pill or a trick or a conquest? Can I slay a dragon or run through fire? Can I cut out my heart and give it to her? No. There is not even that. There is nothing but the good moments, the small glimpses of her with her soft brown eyes, her low and throaty voice smiling when she smiles, the tapping of her foot when music comes on–just enough to remind me how much I miss her, just enough to bring the sweet memories of her as she sung me to sleep. There are the times she is too sleepy to remember she is afraid and she is adorable in her night clothes clutching her coffee cup with her wedding band my dad designed for her prominently and proudly displayed.
She is an amazing story teller. She is quick about her stories too. She will tell me about those people who come into her house and frighten her and when I remind her; “No mommy that was your son and his wife.” She laughs nervously and begins a new story about looking for her dog–she changes the context in an instant and tells the story with amazing detail as if she was never forgetting her son but always looking for her dog. Her mind was always amazing and now as it’s turned on her, even in it’s meanness it will offer a second of peace.
Mommy doesn’t deserve this. It’s absolutely not fair and it makes me want to spit in the face of the god she prayed to dutifully every day and asked for protection. Her story is one of deep loss since before she can remember. Her dad died, they lost her families farm, she had no home, she drifted and tried to do well but all the odds stacked up against her. In her day a man was the answer to all of her loss and now after fifty years he is gone, also lost to her. It is the final blow. She is broken by it. Add to that that she is leaving herself unwillingly and there is little left but fear and hurt. I want to burn down the churches which promised her everlasting love. Fuck them, they just wanted their ten percent cut of what little she had. Where are they now as she sits frightened in her home? Yea, nowhere, that’s exactly right.
Anger gets me out of bed some mornings when I think of mom. I want to fight something, or someone and sing her night time songs as we sit surrounded by the blood of this thing that is taking my sweet little mommy. But there is no real thing to fight no matter how much I want to curse it, blame it and shame it as I dance on its grave. The fact is that if God exists she is crying for my mommy just like I am. If there was a church who’s pastor is still living, she has outlived most, he would pray with her. I want to beat someone senseless but there is not even a shadow to box, I can’t even hate an enemy, not if I’m going to be honest. There is just this thing she does not want named eating away at her last ounce of joy.
I’d like to be braver than I am. I’d like not to grieve as hard as I do, I’d like to hug my grand daughters cheerful little chickens and believe that everything happens for a reason but I have not yet found the edges of this grief and the shadows which stalk my mother are stalking me too waiting for me to be in that glass room pounding on the walls and begging at the lock.
I am told by writers my blog must have a take away, a happy ending, a conclusion which settles the heart and mind. I understand that is good for story but sometimes war takes the lives of children, sometimes people go hungry when a table full of food is just on the other side of the tracks, and sometimes a disease can rob you of your mommy when you never stop needing her regardless of the principles of blogging. This is truth. How can we ever hope for happy endings if we won’t look at it?
I have no happy ending to give you or me in this moment. I am grieving slowly and being furious in quick bursts and I am always missing my mom. My only hope is that my children will not have to miss me in this way or anyone they love.
Peace, I cannot picture often but when I do it comes in a dream of a dock on a blue lake with an empty camp site behind me. I am sad, all I love is gone. I want to linger and hold on but I know if I do I will die. I get up, walk to the start of the dock and then I run fast and hard and fling myself deeply into the blue. I swim without thinking and somehow I cross to the other side. That dream is where I go when I cannot go anywhere else.
Last night I dreamed it again and this time I held my mothers hand when I jumped. Dock and water, tears and fear, anger and pain we jumped in. I could not see if we made it to the other side. I cannot see that far yet. All I have is this longing for strength–help me carry my mother to the other side of that lake.