Grief sucks

Grief sucks.

Yes, I just said that. So you know I’m going to be honest here. This has been a really hard week. Grief is like that sometimes.

Those who grieve will take small comfort in knowing that even for nice, spiritual people, every day doesn’t end in a rainbow. Sometimes, grief sucks, life is hard, and you feel like you’re drowning, even while you’re believing that God is good and does good.

Jesus was called a “Man of Sorrows.” He wept so hard at Lazarus’ grave that the mourners stopped mourning to comment how much Jesus must have loved him to cry like that at the tomb. Jesus also wept over cities and crowds and critics and the confused. He wept a lot, so I’m in good company. He knows that my tears don’t say anything about my faith.

So when people ask me how I am doing, I try to be truthful, but I soft-pedal it a little so they don’t freak out and get uncomfortable. I say “Good” (aka Crummy), “Okay” (aka Not okay), and “Not so good” (aka Terrible). Can’t we all just give ourselves permission to be honest about grief? I miss my mom so much.

I must be taking solace in her belongings, but that has also brought me loss. This week her furniture arrived, at great expense and trouble. I opened the PODS to find out that the packers who packed (in my absence) weren’t good packers at all. And many of her things are broken and ruined, and I want to hit something, but I don’t. The worst is the mahogany table that belonged to my mother and my grandmother and my great-grandmother, broken into 6 pieces because it was packed by an idiot, and I think That’s exactly how I feel–broken, unrepairable. IMG_4490

Yet at some point, I will pick up the table pieces (they’ve been enshrined on my living room floor for days), and I will find out how to put them back together. I will likely spend a lot more money to pay someone to put them back together. I don’t know if the table will stand again or not. Certainly, it will have weak spots, if it does.

Like me. Weak from loving and losing. Weak from saying good-bye.

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College again–breathe deeply

It’s happening again.

I think I’m getting better at this process of separating from my children, but maybe I’m just better at breathing deeply. Pacing myself and mentally preparing myself for the amputation.IMG_0138

It helps to stay busy. And I’ve sure been busy trying to find all the things I hid around my house last May when he came home. I’m searching for all those college items stashed away in cabinets, closets, and in the attic, not to mention the items I re-introduced into our regular lives. The tape, the scissors, the spatulas. Now I’m looking for it all and wondering where I put everything.

This year, I have only one son leaving for college, but he’s moving into a real house, with a real kitchen and his own furniture. Lucky for me, I have a surplus of furniture. Its makes me breathe a little easier about the preparations. My heart quickens at the prospect of “decorating” another house. (His poor roommates won’t know what hit them.)

And yet, I feel the familiar stone weighing the pit of my stomach. Monday is coming, and I will drive home in any empty car without my son. Without his humor, his affection, his happy face, his appreciation for a hot breakfast and a hot dinner. I won’t see him at lunchtime, when he stops at home between his two jobs. He won’t sit with us at night on the couch and watch what we’re watching.

I can picture his baby face and hear his baby belly-laugh. I can even smell the talcum powder. Even as I breathe deeply into my memory, I experience the present. I picture his bearded face and hear his deep laugh. I breathe in the scent of musky man shampoo and think how quickly the years have passed us.

Soon he will be happily hanging out with the friends he’s missed for the past three months. And he will likely be calling me about how to grill burgers and marinate chicken. We had planned to cook together all summer, but somehow, it didn’t happen. He’ll be learning as his stomach grumbles; that might be the best motivator anyway.

And perhaps, if I’m lucky, his stomach will draw him homeward from time to time. The lure of pork chops and fetticine alfredo may just land him back in my kitchen and back on my couch after dinner. He’ll come for cinnamon swirl French toast. And banana cream pie. And chocolate chip banana muffins. (These are all things I’m not going to teach him how to make!)

He is my baby, yet he is a man. What a curious oxymoron for any mother.

I send you lovely, tearful readers my best and non-judgmental motherly sympathies, especially for you first-time college-senders. The separation is painful. No embarrassment over that. It just hurts.

But don’t let yourself wallow in the suffering. A college-bound student speaks of parental success. It marks one of many milestones. You have created an adult who can survive without his mother. That is a great feat.

And even better, when he returns, he will bring a new appreciation for all the other things you managed to accomplish while you were teaching him to be independent. Breathe that in, too.

How to cope with loss

Yesterday was August 8. The date meant nothing to me specifically, except that it was one month after July 8.

Just an ordinary day for most people, but for me, it marked the one-month anniversary of my mom’s death. The only month of my life that I have existed without her. Only one month ago, I was holding her hand and talking to her and kissing her warm cheeks. I’ve had exactly one month to figure out how to cope with loss while you keep living. And I’m blogging about it. (It’s called self-therapy, people. Thanks for helping me process.)IMG_1466

I wonder how many other people in the world remember July 8 as a day where everything changed for them. Or perhaps today is one of those days for someone–a day that can’t be forgotten? It makes you think . . . every day, all year long, someone, somewhere, swallows hard because of the date on the calendar. Because that simple number in a little square bears the weight of a life-altering moment in his or her life. Continue reading