Happy Mother’s Day… Two Weeks Late. Whatever.

Me & Mom
Me & Mom

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. It’ll be two weeks this Sunday. I think. OK, so I’m totally late to the game here. I wanted to write about it; but for me, the day was just another day. Sort of. It was my first Mother’s Day. It was my Mother’s 37th Mother’s Day. She was probably aware of maybe 30 Mother’s Days, give or take …………………………………………… who knows. It’s hard to say. Still, for a long time, Mother’s Day hasn’t meant that much to me.

(if your mother had no idea what day it is, you too might find it really hard to go all out on her behalf; I mean, at that point, it’s more about you, not about her. It feels cheap, even forced. At least that’s how it felt to me.)

After my mom started forgetting things like Mother’s Day, I stopped paying attention to the day. Besides being hurtful, the day is over the top and absurd. I mean, let’s be honest here, if you are so inclined to thank your mother because it’s Mother’s Day, you’re a) thanking your mother for doing her job. b) it’s a little self-congratulatory; moms you signed up for this; and c) maybe you should start thanking your mother on a daily basis.

By the way, C is free advice.

That said, I suppose this Mother’s Day was different. I’m now someone’s mother. I received my first Mother’s Day cards. People reached out to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. Still, it was all very foreign to me. And yet, despite the lovely sentiments, I managed to remain mostly indifferent about it. OK, I managed to ignore (or rather, avoid) the day (and what it means) to the best of my abilities. I didn’t want to feel anything. Because maybe if I actually felt something, if I let the day mean something to me, it would have been a betrayal……………………………………… to my own mother.

I think next year will be different. Two weeks ago, it was just too much to process. Too much to take in. Just another reminder of the past; the horrible, horrifying past.

You see, when I sit down and think about the last ten years and process the loss, the sadness, the disappointments, the grief, the frustrations, the letdowns …………………………………………… to inhale that kind of pain…………………………… I think few people get it. Watching your mother endure this kind of agony, watching your mother pound on glass inside a looney bin………… witnessing horror after horror………………………………… this endless agony, it does something to you; it alters your DNA.

 

Walking Grief… Or Coping With the Act of Dying

Image by Meredith Farmer

I’ve been contemplating this idea of “walking grief” lately…….. mostly, I’m just trying to describe how I feel………….. I’m not always sad, I have sad days, but I’m not sad. On the flipside, I’m not happy either; I have happy moments; moments that make me laugh; but I would not call this phase of my life happy or blissful. So I’ve been playing with the term, “walking grief”…………… because I’m not going through the traditional stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — but rather a mix of almost all of the above (I’ve never bargained with God; I’ve only threatened to beat him up) and then some. I thought there had to be a better word…………….. something that summed it all up because some days you’re angry. Other days you feel depressed. Some days, you just accept it…………………… coping with a parent who is dying a very slow, grotesque death takes a tremendous emotional and even physical toll.

There is no easy recovery from it. You see things, hear things, smell things…………………. it’s traumatic. I don’t want to sound like a victim here. I’m not. My mom is. I’m just here, going through this experience with her. But I’m not gonna lie………….. it’s been brutal; brutal enough where I tell myself, “Kat, it could be worse…. you could be in a war zone or living in place where you’re stoned to death because you’re a woman…”

There is always something worse.

I had lunch with my friend Lea the other day and she made a wonderful comment to me that just clicked………………………… she said that in our society we don’t embrace the duality……………….. that sometimes we will go through periods of just sadness and that’s OK. That you need those moments to balance out the happy.

As a society, we don’t really talk about the sad, about death…………. we avoid it. We don’t talk about it. We are not allowed to dwell in it. To feel it. To sit with it. We bury it. And then we move on. The problem is, those rules don’t really apply with dementia (or in general if you ask me)…………. every time I visit my mother, any progress I’ve made toward feeling “normal” are swept away. So I’m not going to try. I am going to walk my grief. This is where I’m at. That’s it. I am not going to always see the bright side of things. I don’t want to. I am here. I am feeling a blur of emotion…………………………. and I think that’s probably normal.

I am in walking grief and I kindly ask you to respect that.

Flickr pic by Meredith Farmer

Happy Birthday Mom…

Today is her 73rd birthday.

She doesn’t know it’s her birthday.

Happy Birthday Mommy.

The Majesty of Your Loving; A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s

I am the worst when it comes to reading books about Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. It’s not that I don’t want to be bothered, it’s just that, well, honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to get through the book without a bottle of wine and a box of tissues. Then again, this is what this blog is all about: sharing our stories in order to help each other out, to get through the “long goodbye” with a little grace, and hopefully a laugh along the way.

The Majesty of Your Loving; A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's
The Majesty of Your Loving

So when I saw this book, I wanted to share it with you. I haven’t read it yet, but this is on my list:

The Majesty of Your Loving; A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s by Olivia Hoblitzelle

When Olivia and Hob received his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the enormity of that prospect propelled them to make a pact with one another: they would navigate the illness “consciously and lovingly” to the end. The Majesty of Your Loving: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s is their courageous story. Given this couple’s rich background in psychology, Buddhist meditation, and the wisdom traditions, they were able to handle the pain and promise of the illness with unusual thoughtfulness. The author not only writes about the inspirations and spiritual perspectives that sustained them, but gives an intimate account of how they faced loss, crisis, and eventually death. This book has a distinctively positive and uplifting tone, revealing that ultimately their experience was about growing in wisdom and deepening in love. An indispensable guide for anyone dealing with loss, each chapter includes a self-help section with reflections, suggestions, and seed thoughts. This memoir, unique for its inclusive spiritual orientation, provides both hope and practical approaches to anyone dealing with mental loss or diminishment of any kind.