After sleeping for barely four hours last night on the Red Eye home, I’m not sure I have the stamina for a full post tonight, but I’m determined to continue with day 11 of NaBloPoMo. Instead, I’ll follow up yesterday’s post on my childhood home with a journal entry that I wrote the last day I was in that house:
Mom died six days ago. This has easily been the most difficult week of my life. Yes it’s cliche, but I still can’t believe she’s gone. There is this terrible mixture of pain and anger and grief and relief that is just so hard to cope with. I’m sitting at her dining room table as I write this. Her house has been mostly emptied by the family. The realtor will do the rest. I fly back to Boston tomorrow and I so totally fear my return to “normal life.” For the past week my time has been filled with making arrangements for the services and the estate that I’ve only had time for minor breakdowns here and there. But at home it’s going to be a different story. I fear that the grief will wash over me and take up permanent residence. Deep down I know that permanency is not really a reality, but I do know it’s going to be very difficult.
I bought this journal this morning because over the past two days while going through my mom’s house with the family we found three of her own journals. As difficult as it was to read through them, it gave me tremendous insight into who she was and how her mind operated. The biggest thing was how she reacted to issues in her relationships with my dad. I see so much of her in me, and that was an aspect of her life I really wasn’t privy to as it was happening. Anyhow, I do want there to be similar records of me and my thoughts for my family, so I’m going to try to journal a lot more. My goal is ten minutes a day, but we’ll see how that goes when I’m home and there are papers to grade and the baby is crying! I used to journal a lot when I was a kid, but this somehow will be different. I just hope it helps sort out my thoughts most of all.
Okay, first off all, I need to get over the fact that I sound like a maudlin teenager; all that’s missing is the “Dear Diary” opening. (I was 30 when I wrote this.) Still, I wasn’t writing with the idea that anyone would ever read it, so I’ll cut myself some slack.
I remember sitting at that table writing that entry and thinking it would be the last time I’d ever be in that house again, and I thought I had written more about that feeling. Instead when I look back now, I see that the loss was still so raw and the pain too fresh; I worried about life without her in it, especially since I had spent the past few years so hyper-focused on her disease. Now, years later, I still feel her loss as strongly as ever, but the distance allows me a bit more clarity to think shift the focus a bit, which I think results in posts like yesterday. What I do like about looking back at this journal entry is the idea I had of committing these happenings in my life to some sort of written record. And I’m positive that goes beyond mere ego. Personally, I want my kids to have the same feeling of understanding I had in reading my mom’s journals; when they’re older, these posts will give them an authentic accounting of the experiences that influenced our parenting choices. Publicly, these posts share aspects of my life and my family’s lives with the people in our social circles who I think should know all of this, the stuff that for whatever reason I’ve never had an opportunity to detail to those people. Then beyond those people who actually know us in real life, detailing our experiences helps some people know they’re not alone. And perhaps this will elicit some empathy in us all, particularly the understanding that, as the amazing Elaine Stritch often said, “We all have our bag of rocks.”
If you don’t know who she is, you aren’t living.