Happy Birthday

You would have turned 60 today and I would have been trying to convince you that you’re not old. You would have loved the rain today. You’d wear your big coat and your pretty teal scarf. We’d go to Marie Calendar’s for dinner and we’d both order the soup and salad bar and perhaps some hot tea. We’d eat at least two of those little white bowls of potato cheese soup after finishing our mountains of lettuce and vegetables. We’d have chocolate cake that I’d make from boxed cake mix and it would be decorated poorly, but you’d love it anyway.

I’m not sure where I’d be if you were still here. I’m not sure who I’d be. You shaped and changed me in life and I changed when you died.

I’m not sure how different things would be and I don’t think I should dwell on it. What I do know is that you are still loved, still missed, still remembered. I’ll never get over you.

Happy birthday, Mom. I hope it’s a good one.

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Grieving State of Being

Missing someone who has died is a weird phenomenon. Not only is it different for everyone while also kind of being the same, but it’s different each moment, each month, each year. There is progress but there isn’t. It improves but it doesn’t. There have been some years when holidays or my mom’s birthday or the anniversary of her death were easy and I didn’t cry and it didn’t hurt that much. And there are some times, like this past holiday season and like today, when it hurts just about as bad is it did the day she died. It’s true that it has gotten easier as time has passed, I think… but when I have such hard days I wonder if I’ve made any progress at all in terms of feeling better or coping or getting through the grieving process…whatever that means. I’m starting to wonder whether grieving is actually a process or if it’s just a state of being that comes and goes or gets stronger and weaker. It’s never going to be over as long as I am still on this earth. I am stronger than I was before except for when I’m not. And sometimes it makes sense. It makes sense that this past Christmas was harder because it was also the first Christmas after my grandpa (my mom’s dad) passed away and it was the first Christmas that I didn’t spend with the people I usually spend the holidays with. It makes sense that today (her birthday) is harder than last January 5th because my brother is getting married at the end of the month and she won’t be there to see it. And this year is going to bring about big changes in my life and the knowledge that she is going to miss it all hurts like the week I went back to school after she had just passed away and I knew she would miss my high school graduation the following month. But there are other times when it comes out of nowhere. I think I’m fine and I’m not feeling particularly sad and then it just hits me. And there’s nothing observable that seems to have caused it, it just is. It’s just there. It just hurts.

Anyway, I’m not really sure how to wrap this up because my thoughts don’t really feel conclusive or tidy to me, so I will end with this:

If you are grieving over someone, whether they died years ago or just yesterday or anytime in between, your feelings are valid. I have had many times where I beat myself up about grieving thinking I should be better now, I should be stronger. I have so much to be thankful for, I shouldn’t be sad. But I am. And it’s okay. It’s human. It’s love. It’s okay to remember and it’s okay to talk about it and cry in front of other people even if they don’t know what to do with you. I often feel the desire to share and be vulnerable about these things but I’m always afraid of seeming like I’m begging for pity and I think I need to apologize… but opening up and being vulnerable is so worth the risk of being seen in an unfavorable light. It connects us. It gives people the opening to be vulnerable right alongside us. Getting those feelings that feel so personal out there feels so good especially when you find people who can relate. So feel that grief if you are feeling it. And talk about it if you want to talk about it. And if you can’t find someone who will listen, I’m right here.

Happy birthday to my mother who was my closest friend and confidant. I learned so much from her and am so thankful to have had her for nearly 18 years. Remembering her warmth and love today.

Happy birthday to my mother who was my closest friend and confidant. I learned so much from her and am so thankful to have had her for nearly 18 years. Remembering her warmth and love today.

Killing Off Characters

People often get really upset when one of their favorite characters in a book, show, or movie gets “killed off.” They often get angry at the writers as though the writer sadistically decided to murder the character. I understand the frustration – I can get pretty emotionally invested in stories too – but really I think people need to chill out.

First of all, having beloved characters die is realistic. People die. We don’t get to decide who or how or when. Sometimes the people we love the most die. Sometimes many people that we love die all around the same time. It happens. And fiction should, at least somewhat, mirror reality.

Secondly, though I still sometimes use the phrase, I think we should stop accusing writers of “killing off characters” unless it is pretty obvious that the death of said character was written purely for shock factor (I’m looking at you, season 3 of Downton Abbey…I don’t know, that all felt really cheap to me…). One time John Green was talking about this (I think someone may have asked him why he decided to kill a certain character) and he said something to the effect of “Authors don’t kill characters; Characters die.” (This is not an exact quote). And I really liked that. I know this sounds kind of mystical, but whatever: The stories and characters that we write, while they are technically our creations and come from our own minds, are separate entities that already exist before we put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as the case may be). The story is already there and it’s our job to write it accurately. The characters already exist and it’s up to us to make sure the actions and dialogue we write for them are consistent with who they are. So, when I write about a character who dies, I’m not sadistically “killing him off,” I’m relaying to my readers the facts of his life. If I feel that a character is supposed to die in the next scene and I don’t write that death, the story is instantly cheapened.

It is perfectly okay to grieve a bit when a character dies, but please stop getting angry at storytellers for writing the deaths of characters. If you only want to experience unrealistic stories in which nothing tragic ever happens…maybe stay in the children’s section? Well… you may even be in danger there…

Nothing Left Unsaid

\\ Just a forewarning: this month’s post is going to be a bit emotional. I had told myself before that I was going to stop writing blog posts about losing my mother, but I just really wanted to this month. And anyway, it’s my blog, so I’m going to write what’s on my mind. This post might also be a bit scatter-brained, or “stream of consciousness” if you will, because I can’t be bothered to organize my thoughts. So if this isn’t your cup of tea, go pour yourself some coffee 😛 I’m not sure what I mean by that. \\

The month of May is probably always going to be difficult for me. May 6th is the anniversary of my mom’s death and Mother’s Day always arrives a painfully short amount of time after that. There have been a couple of years when May 6th didn’t really get to me, but don’t worry, Mother’s Day tends to bring out the grief that the anniversary couldn’t manage. But this year it hurt on both days and even some days surrounding. I think it had something to do with the fact that this was the first year that May 6th has fallen on a Tuesday (same as the year she died) and I was really thinking about each day that she was in the hospital, etc. This is also the first May that I don’t live in a place where she once lived and my father is married to someone else. These changes aren’t bad changes at all, it’s just that sometimes the new things make me feel like I’m losing her even more. I remember the first year or so after she died, I became increasingly more afraid of big life changes because I didn’t want things to be too far from what they were when she was here. This kind of freaked me out because a month after she went, I graduated from high school, turned 18, got my license, and a month after that, got my first job and then later that year decided to switch churches. These changes were all normal changes. They were good changes. But they hurt. I hate realizing how many things she will not be here for. I hate noticing all the things she has already missed in these six years. I think that’s what hurt the most this year. I’ve become hyper-aware of all the things that are different and all the things that will likely change. I realized that the me that she knew is not the me that I am now. And it’s good that I’m different. There would be a huge problem if 23-year-old me wasn’t much different from 17-year-old me. But it hurts. It hurts to think that my mother didn’t know who I would become. It hurts that my mother can’t currently know me. 

On this most recent May 6th, I stayed home from work because I was not doing so well emotionally, and I have a nice boss who didn’t mind. After a long while of trying to distract myself, failing to do so, and then just full-on grieving, I pulled out my notebook and wrote something that I think might explain a bit better what I’m trying to say here:

 

It was Tuesday, May 6th. Just like today. I remember coming home without you. It was annoyingly sunny outside and there were children playing in their yards as we drove past. It made me so angry. 

The weather is more fitting today. It is finally raining after so much sun. It is quiet but for the cars on the street. 

I remember the three of us walking into that house that you made a home. We said nothing. I cried and they held me. I could not be comforted as I saw all the spaces you would never occupy again. 

Now I sit in a home you’ve never lived in, at a table you’ve never eaten at, living a life you cannot be a part of other than in my own heart and mind. I know you are much better off where you are now, but it still kills me to know what you will miss. You won’t hold me when I’m crying. You won’t give me advice when I’m lost. You won’t go anywhere with me. You won’t bake or cook with me. You won’t see who I’m becoming or the new interests I’ve developed. You won’t know my new dreams and ambitions. You won’t cry at my wedding or hold my hand while my children come into the world. Your chair will always be empty.
You left so early. 

There is so much I want you to see. So much I want to tell you. 
I am blessed that when you died, there was peace between us and I had no regrets – nothing left unsaid. But the trouble is that life keeps going. There are new things to be said. I can’t say that they are left unsaid because there was never an opportunity. 
You left so early.

…anyway, I don’t really know how to end this. I’m sorry if that was depressing or anything, I just felt like sharing and I know that there are many who can relate. When I learn about other people’s grief it makes me feel less alone and more connected with others, so I try not to hold back too much. If you powered through my ramblings… well, thanks ^_^

 

Here’s a picture of my mom and me because of reasons:

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