I’m finding it hard, these last couple days, after getting the final call that she’s gone—to transition from her dying to her death. How do I move away from the increasingly familiar feelings of dread, anger, distress--to simply sadness?
I do feel immense relief, but also a pressure to transition right into grieving mode. But I've spent so much time waiting, and fighting alongside her - how do I just shut it off and accept she's finally gone? How do I let the rest of the shit go?
A friend emailed me and said, half jokingly, that she was always here to talk, as we are both in the Dead Parents club, and that she finds it odd how weird people are about death, about how we sweep it under the rug, how many aren’t comfortable talking about it, as if it’s not a perfectly natural part of life, a prescribed fate for all of us.
I agree, but I had this to add: how much do you convey (and do you? or do you leave it out?) of the heart wrenching experience of watching someone die for weeks, months, years? When it's not always a completely peaceful end? (Thankfully she did go peacefully, when she finally surrendered and let go).
It's surreal to me to expect to move now into mourning, after being in defense mode for so long. My fists and jaw were clenched for weeks, months. Headaches pounding, heart hammering in my chest, day in and day out. But I had to hold that all in, because I didn’t know when it would end, not exactly, and why burden others with that distress, that pain?
And now, she’s gone, and now I can talk about the death part, because, it's safe?
I'll work on it. This transition. To mourn her, the woman, the mom, the teacher, the human—not the sick person, and she always despised being considered "sick". She always said, “I’m not sick, I feel fine…it’s juts this cancer business that’s in the way” - as if it were an inconvenience more than a disease. Even when she was clearly in pain, she never admitted it. And that attitude is what carried her over and beyond the myriad prognoses over these 7.5 years, this denial, no, rejection, served as a propellent for her to keep going. To never give up.
I’ll never know or experience such strength again. I guess recognizing that is my first step to mourning my mother.