Friday, December 19, 2008

a blizzard of emotions

A nor’easter dumped about seven inches of snow today. It would’ve been enchanting, the first real snowstorm of the season, if we hadn’t seen a lot more of it last week in Oscoda. The puppies loved it, though I didn’t take photos. I framed the shots in my mind and thought about the angles and the light, but I’m just so enervated I didn’t get the camera out.

We buried my Mother on December 9. Visitation was the day before. I held it together through most of the Mass, but cried when the Ave Maria was sung and then again at Our Lady of Hope, which is where it really hit me that my beautiful, brilliant, wickedly funny mother is gone. I know I really lost her two Christmases ago when she didn’t notice the irises we had placed in her room when she and Dad came to visit or the wonderful glass artworks we have hanging in the windows—flowers and art have always been our bond. But this was so final: I’ll never hear her laugh at Stanley having to chase a cat or wait anxiously for her rating of the meal I cooked.

When I rode with my father, sisters, and brother in the limo on the way to the cemetery, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it is that my parents raised six kids who are, despite time and distance and the occasional disagreement, close and loving and who pull together and want to take care for each other and Dad despite our enormous pain.

And I am so grateful to Stanley, who pulled me through and held me up and helped me despite the pain he was going through at the loss of his brother just days before Mom died. His brother’s memorial service was the same day my mother died—I tried hard to be there for him but was so numb I don’t know how much support I was for him.

We boarded the cats and took the pups with us and stayed with my brother Scott in Wyandotte. We invaded, rather. We probably drove Scott crazy, but we felt so comfortable there it was a relief. It was also so good to see all my aunts and uncles and cousins, nieces and nephews, family friends. I didn’t get enough time with any of them and I hope we can all get together again for a happy event, like we did for Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary party. (Maybe this spring with the birth of TWO great grandkids—I’ll be a great-aunt twice over!) We went with Dad to The Grind, a good coffeehouse on Biddle in downtown Wyandotte, and discovered it is the same storefront where Dad had a paint store in the late 1950s.

We went up to Oscoda to spend a couple of days with Dad and to begin sorting things out. Stanley got the flu, but was mostly better by the time we had to go home on Sunday (he won’t let me drive. Which is just as well because he is a maim-worthy passenger at best.) Then I got the flu on Monday. It was not pretty. I’m pretty much over it now. But we’re both just so tired—thinking about it, I realize it’s been three weeks since the first loss and no time to breathe since then. There are a lot of things I want to do, but recognize that I don’t have to do them right away.

It’s been really hard getting back into my work—I did get quite a bit done despite being sick, but I’ve been feeling like a stranger in a strange land. The loss sucker punches me at least a couple of times a day—Stanley said he went through this too when his mother died. Though I miss my mother, I am also glad that she didn’t have to suffer through the end states of frontotemporal dementia because she was so terrified of the indignity of it all after having watched her own mother’s terrible end from the same disease.

Dad is due in Natick in a few days—I am really happy we’ll get to see him this winter and I would worry way too much if he spent the winter in Oscoda. I think he’ll like spending time with Maureen and family and maybe even getting to know Boston well. Jamie is coming out with him—a chance for us to spend Christmas with her before she’s in the land of Grandmahood!

I want to thank my friends, too, for your cards and emails and phone calls of support—all with such compassion and each of you with the uncanny ability to use the words I most need to hear at just the right time.

posted by lee on 12/19/08 at 08:59 PM

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