I finally made it out socially last week, and I was even more awkward than usual.  All I want to talk about is what’s going on; the last thing I want to talk about is what’s going on. But just in case you do see me and  you don’t think I’m SUPER weird, here is a sort of an, I dunno, translation, because my mouth and my brain aren’t communicating too well:

YOU: “How are you doing?”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

TRANSLATION:  I don’t know – I don’t even know if I’m thinking in terms like that right now. My first instinct is to say “Fine,” but I’m not. It’s one minute at a time.  Sometimes it’s okay, and sometimes there are moments of overwhelming sadness and I don’t know how to answer or really even speak.  But I’m getting through it. Not over it, but through. And that is good. So I guess I’m as good as can be expected, and really grateful that you’re asking because that makes me feel loved.

YOU: “I’m sorry I haven’t reached out/called/written/texted.”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

TRANSLATION: It’s okay.  Really, it is.  I understand. I feel like my grief is a big gaping wound that no one wants to look at, like gross medical conditions you Google and then you see photos and think, “Ew, I wish I had NEVER seen that.” And also, it’s rough, especially if you haven’t lost your mom yet.  My friend had the best term for it – “pre-grief.” She lost her mom, and it was something I was always so scared of that I unconsciously shied away from her, and I didn’t mean to.  I didn’t realize just how deep this could be, even though I thought I was prepared for it. And I know it stirs up old wounds, too.  A few friends have said, “Now you’re in the club,” and it’s a club we all join at some point, even though like Groucho Marx, we never, ever want to be members.  And plus, being around someone sad is hard, regardless of your own temperament.  But I know that my friends love me, and all the love I have felt, whether it’s cards, calls, texts, or just silent comfort, gets me out of bed (almost) every morning.

YOU: “Do you need any help with anything?”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

TRANSLATION: Yes.  But I don’t know with what.  But asking is kind and I appreciate it. And watch out, I may take you up on it.  (And if anyone can make skunks magically disappear, let me know.)

YOU: “I’ve been reading what you’ve been writing on facebook, and [fill in the blank]”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

This one is super hard. I only started writing about all of this because my mom was asleep a lot, and I needed a way to cope and not forget, and preserve it for my sisters and myself. Plus I wanted to let people know what was going on because I was exhausted from trying to email everyone.  My mom was so special, and had a lot of family and friends worrying about her. It’s nice that I’ve gotten compliments – that makes me feel good – but it’s also strange because that’s not what I was/am seeking. I don’t feel it’s eloquent, I don’t know how beautiful any of it is, and some people have said that they don’t know how I could write like that – they couldn’t in my situation. I felt weird about that, like if there was something wrong with me that I was doing this, but decided it really is my way of coping – I used to call friends and cry, but now I hate the phone. I write; that’s what I do. And it has been more cathartic for me, and I know it’s been a burden on some, but I really appreciate the patience of letting me do this so publicly. Thank you.  Seriously, thank you. It helps more than you know.

YOU: I’m so sorry about your mom. She sounded awesome.

ME: Thank you. She was.

TRANSLATION: Thank you. She was.  She was so awesome. And lovely and kind, and I miss her so much.

YOU: Do you need a hug?

ME: Yes, please.

TRANSLATION: Yes, please.

Been a hard, hard year.

2016 has been a bear.  No, not a bear — a rabid, vicious beast that was never a cub, but emerged fully mean and snarling.  Wait…  That’s not entirely true.  The first few days were good.  I’d eaten a lot of black eyed peas, so my luck was certain and sure.

But then David Bowie died, and that set the course.  I was strangely devastated by that loss — I didn’t know him personally, but I think so many of us had a personal attachment to him.  He taught us to be different and be ourselves, and we all collectively grieved for him and our formative, golden years.

Soon after — maybe a week — my mother got sick, and simultaneously, my friend died.  And then my cat died, my sweet cuddle buddy, and our house seems empty and still.

And then the worst thing imaginable happened — my mother was gone, too.  I loved her more than anyone, and I’m reeling.  Sometimes it feels like I’ll never be truly happy again, even though she would never want that.  She would be so mad at me for that.

Instead she would want me to find the positive things, and there have been.  I tried writing little vignettes while it was all happening, and it helped me cope.  I wanted a way to save some of this time for my sisters and me, and anyone who loved my mom.  I couldn’t write in a journal, and opening a Word document to write was too daunting.  So I posted little things on Facebook.

Then something nice happened.  My friends sent my stories to Frank Somerville, who has a terrific Facebook page, and he shared one of my little tributes to my mom, and the outpouring of love and support was such a gift to my sisters and me.  It really helped us to read the kind words from good people.  And he said that I was a good writer, and that made me feel proud, despite the miasma of really terrible sadness.

I guess it was a sign from the universe (or my parents — I like to think it was them, looking out for me) to write, and to make it happen because I’ve been daunted for too long. So that’s what I’m going to do.

And I’m linking the Frank Somerville post here so that I’ll always have it, because in Internet time it’s already over, though my grieving has just begun.

Okay, 2016.  It’s time to stop being so cruel.  You came in like a lion, but I’m hoping that eventually you’ll turn into a lamb.

Frank Somerville