Yesterday, I made a list of book projects I need to complete before the year is out. There are a total of seven books that need to be typed, written and revised. But that's nothing compared to today. Today, I worked on one of my books. After seven days of not working on any of them.
These are big steps I have taken since writing a short story inspired by my mother's death last week. It was a story I was inspired to write because it helped me to cope with the loss of my mother. (Though I know we have not REALLY lost her. Death is not the end.) But just because I am back to work on writing, revising and editing books, it doesn’t mean I am completely “over” or healed about my mother’s death. The truth is, I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing her or ever “get over” her passing.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t go on living life like I used to. Because I know we all have things we have to do. Responsibilities. Deadlines. In the beginning, I did things I had to do out of necessity and I was on autopilot. Now it's with a sense of purpose, because I KNOW my mother would want us to continue with life. And I know she would want me to continue writing. So we do the things we gotta do, even if we do these things with a sad look on our faces and with a downcast look every now and then. Or the occasional tear trickling down our cheek.
I have had a lot of help to get through the first week. Lots of tears were shed and lots of prayers were whispered. There were times I just sat down and sadly stared at the sky, wondering if I’d see Mom’s angel, and times I held my kids extra close just one more time. Times I wanted to cry and scream, and times I just kept asking God why. I also turned to a personal journal that I keep. I usually don’t write in it very often, but lately, I have written in it. A lot. I just had a total outpouring of my thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions and struggles. I dealt with the anger instead of lashing out at people with it. Struggled with guilt. Groveled in my sorrow. Kept asking things like was I a good daughter? Did I do enough? Did she know how much I loved her? I just let it all out on the pages. That helped me so much.
It also helped that people took the time to reach out. All the comments and messages on Facebook from relatives expressing their condolences and words of support really meant the world to us. The emails from other people also meant a lot, too. It really means so much that these people took the time to share their condolences and thoughts. It also helped when people shared their own experiences of losing their mothers. One person said you can’t really relate to it or understand it unless you have gone through it, too. I so know what she means. And I also know that sharing this experience helps. I have known others who have lost a mother or father in the past and while I expressed my own condolences to them, I was not able to REALLY relate to what they were going through. Now I do. Now I have been there. And now I can help someone else who goes through such a loss, because now I know what it is like.
It is a little strange losing your parent. I mean, this is a person who played a role in creating us. This is who we came from. And that's a very strong connection. Losing that person is like losing a part of oneself.
The cards we received in the mail were a surprise. We did not expect them. Well, I hadn’t. But they were a very pleasant surprise. I was very grateful for the cards and we will cherish them. We also received a lovely plant. I don’t see it as a reminder that my mom has died; I see it as a sign of just how strong a bond is between people who care about others going through a difficult time. And that says a lot.
And I have also really noticed who exactly have reached out. And who has not. Makes you wonder about who is paying attention. And maybe even who really cares.
One big thing that has changed me since my mother’s death is that I definitely won’t be wasting my time anymore. Time is all we have, really. Time for ourselves, yes, but most importantly, time with the people who matter. For months I hated the habit I had of spending hours on the Internet reading everything. No more of that. If I don’t HAVE to be on the Internet, then I won't be on the Internet. There is a life out there in the world to be lived. I am going to live it. We are not meant to box ourselves away from each other or spend our lives PLANTED in front of some form of technology or another. We are meant to enjoy this world that we live in – the world that is outside our door – and spend time with people. As much time as we can.
So I have made changes to where that is possible. I still work on books, yes, but they’re not going to take up hours of my life every day any more. No more of that!
I have also gotten to where I ask, when I am unsure of something, What would Mom do? What would Mom say? Of course I don’t have an EXACT answer. But I can guess. And that’s the next best thing.
I may be tough on the outside, but I’m still fragile on the inside. I may act and look like I am over my mother’s death, but I’m not REALLY over my mother’s death. I don’t think I ever will be. Life goes on, I know, but it's really hard to pick myself up and keep going without having my mother in this world, too. But at least I am slowly finding my way along this path I must travel, even though my mother is no longer there for me to call on the phone or send a card to. No, but at least she’s still with me in spirit. And that helps, too. That means that she is not really gone. Not really.