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On a ship named despair...

I've been thinking a lot about grief lately. One of the writers on Blogging Baby recently lost her father, and it triggered me thinking. I started thinking about the 5 Stages of Grief. They're usually listed as so.
  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I lived with these stages as my bible shortly after my mother died. It gave me something to hold onto, a reason, some sanity to remind me that what I was feeling was normal, and would, eventually pass.

The order varies for some-myself, I remember Bargaining as the big first one. Back when I still didn't believe in gods, but tried to find the one my mother found such solace in, I'd beg them to let her live, just until I got my first period, until my prom, until a boy kissed me, really kissed me. I said I'd be good, said I wouldn't upset anyone or anything, I even offered myself in her place.

Nuthin.

She died of course. We spent one last Christmas with her, but it was a sad one. What do you buy someone who's going to die? A book? My father tried to buy her clothes, because she was so cold all the time, but most didn't fit because she didn't have the energy to even get herself dressed half the time. I helped her with her winter boots, I carried the bowls of vomit upstairs.4 months bled into eachother. I spent it in a haze, likely denying that anything was wrong. Although I doubt it. I knew very well what was happening.

I remember a little while before she died, my mother sat with me in one of the visiting rooms in the palliative care ward, and we talked. I don't remember what we said, but my mother never, ever talked to me alone like that, on purpose. I'd give up many things to remember that conversation, even if it was just her voice.

Even then, I sat there ignoring the basic fact that she was dying. I know this because I remember NOT looking in her eyes, something I only do to a person if I don't respect them, or if I'm too easily broken by what they might say. I ignored it, even when she came home to die. No one comes home to live in the front room, in a hospital bed, barely able to talk. No one comes home, and lays on pads to piss. She demanded her home to die in, and they allowed her this.

With time, comes a vague acceptance. I've accepted that my mother died. I didn't lose her. She died, she went away from me. But I've also accepted that she knew, and had no choice. My father told me recently that she held on and held on until her forced her doctors to be honest, to tell her that there really was nothing left that they could do. Up until they did, she believed, she persisted, she made my father sick with her hope. My father had looked into her eyes and saw what was, that her life was limited, and there was nothing any of us could do.

She accepted this, and slowly, began to die in earnest. The rest of this story is the same as many others, changing only the age the kid was. My mother died in our front room one day in early spring.

Grief is funny. I'll be fine for days, weeks, months, and it's the little things that cut me. Premade cookie dough in the oven, the way I cut apples like my mother, cleaning her teacups. All at once, all of those stages are swept away, and I'm crying like a child into my cookie, lamenting the fact that it's been far too long since her and I sat and ate the dough together, while it was still cold, and my father was at work. Suddenly in a store, some frilly, flouncy dress will catch my eye, and the cold hard tantrum I threw in the Cataraqui Mall over my communion dress comes to mind. I still remember my tears, my fears, all crystallized in that moment. Somehow knowing at 8 that this might be the last fancy dress she'd ever buy me. It had tiny x&o's all over it. I remember how bloody frustrated she was, and tired. how I do regret making her so tired.

The next fancy dress I got was for her wake. And I hated it too.

Even as a child, I felt that the other people in my life, teachers, friends, had allotted a certain time frame in which I was allowed to grieve, and once I crossed that time, my "antics" were no longer so excused. 2 years was all I was "given". After that, I was a bad seed with "anger problems", some messed up girl that was more effort than I was worth. I didn't sit still in class, I wasn't dainty. I certainly wasn't very pretty.

I distinctly remember telling my guidance counselor about the 5 stages, and that I was very angry because my mother died, but that it was ok, it would pass. He left me alone, mostly after that. I remember others asking "But what is wrong with YOU Dora?"

At 13 you have enough trouble not saying 'Fuck you" to everyone as it is. I knew nothing was wrong with me. I knew I was grieving my mother. But no one wanted to give me the space to do so. How is anyone to grieve losing a parent in two years, least of all a teenager? Why couldn't someone have been there for me, just been there, without the accusations, and the blame. I was a mess, but I was also a sad little girl who wasn't quite sure who to cry in front of.

So back I'd go to Kubler-Ross, to see, to hear that I was ok. That I was ANGRY, full of rage, and unable to accept kindness or pity or compassion because DAMMIT I'M PISSED. But her voice I her books was a steady quiet influence on me, and helped me.

Years later, someone finally told me that it was ok to grieve as fast or as slow as I wanted. And so I began to grieve anew, but this time, it was different. This time, the hurt, the abandonment, it didn't matter. This time, I just grieved for the life I didn't have, and the life my mother lost.

This time, I'm gonna be ok. Because this time, two little girls see the world in their mommy's eyes, and don't quite understand why mommy gets sad. And those two little girls deserve a whole lot better than good enough.

And I've accepted that.

Nice post.

I've never had to go through that kind of pain and can only sympathize with you.

Isn't it amazing how the things we were most hurt by as children are the things we obsessively try to do right for our kids? I hope your girls never have to go through what you had to endure.

Good luck with moving on.

I was trying to think of something reasonable to say last night and just couldn't.

I was so sad for you.

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »

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