the beginning

Grief is a strange beast. I’ve lost friends, some extended family, but this is different. This is in my body. This is coursing through my skin. It’s painful and… weird.

I never expected to react the way I did when I was told my mother died. I had been detached for almost 15 years. In the few times I thought about how I’d react, I always thought it wouldn’t phase me. I thought I’d be relieved. I thought it would be easier since sometimes I pretended she’d passed long ago just to not talk about her.

It didn’t work out that way.

My dad showed up. He got the phone call from the sheriff and flew overnight to get to me- two connecting flights. Obviously that’s strange, you know, having your dad show up unannounced at 10:30 in the morning while you’re brushing your teeth so I was shaking like a nervous chihuahua. He comes in, puts his stuff down, uses the restroom (all common things that follow getting to your destination after flying all night). I give him a short tour… I’m freaking out, but I’m keeping it cool. He suggests we talk on the porch outside because it’s such a lovely day out. I’m loosely thinking I’m going to be scolded.

We sit down and I can’t pretend to be fine anymore so I say “this is the nicest way I know how to say this, but did somebody die?”

His face tightens, as if turning almost into stone. He nods.

I then lean back and think to myself who would warrant him flying all this way at the drop of a hat just to tell me….. oh.

“Is it my mom?”

Tears now swell in his eyes. He nods, croaks out “yes”.

This is the moment. This is where I thought I wouldn’t flinch. And yet…

I wailed. I bawled. I felt like I was a toddler again, you know how when they cry it just seems to explode out of them. I couldn’t breathe I was crying so hard. Then it was shock. The day had waves of tears here and there. The more days that passed, the less frequent the waves.

It was weird.

And that was just the beginning.

12 thoughts on “the beginning

  1. Yes, I understand your reaction. I really do.

    When my father died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 53, I had not seen or spoken with him in 8 1/2 years. So much bad had happened between us that I wouldn’t have expected to grieve much for him, if at all. But my reaction to my father’s death was very similar to your grief for your mother.

    My mother has been even more abusive to me than my father was. Today, more than thirty years since my father’s death, my mother is still alive and in her 80s. We have been mostly no contact for years.

    Like you, I have imagined that I will feel little or nothing when she dies. Like you, I have even wondered if I might feel some relief.

    About a month ago I did a google search of my mother’s name. I do that once or twice a year, just to see if anything has changed. Unlike my previous searches, this last search brought up an obituary for a woman with the same first name and same uncommon last name. The obituary listed the age of the deceased as 82.

    I felt like a horse had kicked me in the chest. Literally felt like I was going to have a heart attack, right on the spot. Then I read a little further down and saw that the deceased woman was not my mother.

    So, now I know that it won’t be so easy when my mother dies.

    My heart goes out to you. I am saying a prayer for you.

      • I was hoping my story would help. I don’t know anything about your back story, I just found your blog today because a blogger I follow had reblogged this post. For all I know, you may have had a mostly great relationship with your mother. Although every human relationship has difficulties, of course. But still, I thought it might help a little if I shared my experience.

        The mother -daughter relationship is so complex. Losing your mother, regardless of your history with her, is very difficult. Take care of yourself, you need and deserve that right now.

      • I have another post queued up for tomorrow that talks about how helpful it is when others tell their stories. I’m 27, so I don’t know a whole lot of people that have lost a parent, but I am grateful for those that have that have shared their stories with me. It helps me see that I’m on what I determine is the right, healthy path and that I’m going through relatively normal feelings even if they’re different for everyone.

        My mom was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and had borderline personality disorder. I moved in full time with my dad when I was maybe 11 or 12 and got a restraining order against her when I was 15. Stories about her trickle out here and there on my blog. I don’t talk about her much, but I heal best when I write it out. I post it all in case someone is going through something similar.

        Thank you again!! I’m so grateful for you reaching out. Means a lot!

  2. By the way, I just have to say, after going back and reading this post again: you can write. This post is breathtaking. Hits me right between the eyes. It’s not just what you are saying, it’s the way you say it. I hope you are writing a book!

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