Loss

Irony

So…I’ve found myself wrestling with something over the past few days since I received my orders from the Air Force to return to the United States.  For the first time in 12.5 years, I will be living on U.S. soil again.  What keeps rolling around in my mind is that I’ll be touching down in my home state of California the day before the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  It’s irony at its best.

My mother was not thrilled at the idea of me moving to England 12-and-a-half years ago, but she understood I had to go.  I was married to my first husband at the time, and he served in the Air Force.  When the Air Force tells you to go somewhere, you don’t really have much of a choice.  And my mother told me at the time, “Sara, I am your past, not your future.  Your future is your husband.”  I know it was very difficult for her to say those words, but my mom was completely selfless in a lot of ways.

After my first husband and I separated and I decided to stay in England, mom pretty much said the next thing.  Sure, she would have loved for me to move back home. What mother wouldn’t want her baby close to her? But again, she said, “I am your past, not your future.  Live your life.  This is the woman I raised you to be.”  And again, I know it was very difficult for her to say that.  I know she meant it, but I also knew she wanted me to come home.  She agreed with my point of view that staying in England was a once in a lifetime deal.  Never again would I have the opportunity to live there.  So, I stayed.  And we talked on the phone at least two or three times per week. For hours on end.

When I started applying for Marketing Director jobs, there were many places I considered applying.  I knew the position at Travis Air Force Base (near my mother) wasn’t available, so I applied stateside with other branches of the military, and I applied overseas with the Air Force.  When the job here in Korea was offered to me, I called my mom, and for the THIRD time, she told me, “I am your past, not your future.  This is your dream job. I want you to take it.  Yes, I would love to have you home, but you are a grown woman and I am so proud of the woman you’ve become.  Live your life.”  And for the third time, I knew saying that had to be excruciating to her.  Again…the most selfless woman I’ve ever known.  I know she wanted me home then as much as she did before, but I also knew (because mom often told me so) that if I gave up my goal to be a Marketing Director and career woman, I’d never hear the end of it.  More than wanting me home with her, my mom wanted me to be successful and happy.  Mom told me all the time, especially after she had her  first stroke and got sick, that if I packed things up and moved home to be with her or take care of her, she’d never speak to me again.  She flat out told me she would be disappointed in me.  That it wasn’t the life she wanted for me.  People assumed I was selfish in my choices to stay overseas and strive to attain my goal.  Here’s the thing:  I didn’t just do it for me.  I also did it for her.  Because she was so proud of me.  Because she wanted that for me.  Because I couldn’t stand to disappoint her.  And because I knew above all else that I was becoming the woman she had always wanted me to be.

So here I am getting ready to move back to the U.S.  I’m not moving to California, but I’m moving to a nearby state.  I’m not going there with my career in mind, for the first time.  I’m going because that is where my husband’s career is taking us.  Above all else, I support him and his career choices and prospects.  But, here I am 12 years later finally moving home to the states.  So close to the first anniversary of mom’s death.  I can’t help but wonder why life didn’t take another turn and I didn’t find the opportunity for my career to progress in the states.  Why I couldn’t have gotten home sooner so I could have spent more time with mom before her passing.  I guess if I did find a job in her area, I wouldn’t have had the same life.  I would never have met my husband.  I would never have met my future.  And mom would tell me the same thing now as she did with my first husband, “I am your past; not your future.  Your husband is your future.”

I love my mom, no matter what some people may say.  Do I feel selfish sometimes for following a career path that kept me overseas for so long?  Of course I do.  But I also know my mother never would have forgiven me if I’d passed on those opportunities.  And now that I’m headed back to the states, a part of me feels that it’s too little too late, regardless of what my mother wanted for me in life.  I feel a pang in my heart much like a dagger because I wasn’t able to get home in time to be able to see mom more frequently.  But…no matter what, I’m finally on my way there.  And I know mom is looking at me from wherever she is and thinking, “I’m happy you’re coming home and that you have this new life ahead of you.  I am your past, not your future.”

So…I guess I’ll end this with the immortal words of Ozzy Osbourne…”Mama, I’m coming home.”  I just wish you were still here to see it.

In frith,

SaraKitty

Word Vomit: Wading Through Grief

So…..I’ve been trying to formulate the words in my head, but I always end up losing my thoughts. So much to say about the last two months and the torrential downpour my emotions have become….so I’m going to do what my mentor and teacher, Francesca, says to do: “Say it badly.”

A little background, because what I’m about to say is very personal and painful. But I know there are others like me, suffering in the same manner as I am…

I have been reading Francesca De Grandis’ books for some time. She is a pagan, witch, shaman, and wonderful person. For any of my pagan followers, she is the creator of The Third Road , a Faerie Tradition.  This is the path I also follow.
The books of hers I’ve read are listed under my Good Reads page.  More books of hers I’m working on are soon to follow.

I recently began taking tele-seminars with Francesca, and as part of that training, she is available for one-on-ones, which is priceless.  I had my first one-on-one with her this weekend.  It was soul-opening.

So, that being said, here is more background on what is happening:

I lost my mother on June 2. This year. It’s very fresh for me. My mother raised me mainly as a single mother. She and my father divorced when I was one year old. She later remarried and divorced again by the time I was five. She didn’t marry again until I was around nine or so. The last husband split on us, took all of my mother’s savings, and left us high and dry…homeless. My mother and I were close. She was my best friend, confidante, hero, and other things I can’t possibly express. She was my one safe haven. I was free from judgment. I could be myself. She gave me the freedom to be whom I wanted and needed to be. I am also her only child. The grief I feel is incomparable. I feel as though a piece of me died with her. I’m actually writing this as I’m gazing over my laptop and looking at her urn. I received it via registered mail on Friday. I should probably mention I live in South Korea, a half a world away from where my mother was. My home. California. I’m looking at all that physically remains of my maternal soul mate. It’s gut wrenching.

When mom’s ashes arrived on Friday I finally lost it. I stood at the post office window, where one of our nation’s finest, an Airman in the USAF, brought me the box holding my mother’s remains. I cried on the spot. I broke down in public. Everything just started pouring out. He looked at me rather confused, and I could only say, “It’s my mom.” The poor guy was utterly speechless. It’s hard sometimes for people to express sympathy or empathy, especially with something so huge. But he did manage to say to me, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Then he returned to silence.

I cried to the car. I cried my way through the store as I picked up a few things I needed to get through the weekend. I cried my way home, up 13 flights, and into my apartment. I cried as I opened the package and gently unwrapped my mother. I set her on the hutch area in my dining room, and I just looked at her. And I talked to her. I cried to her. I let it all out. The only problem was I couldn’t hear her voice. I couldn’t feel her arms around me. I couldn’t see her. And I got angry. So angry.

So, here I am now writing this blog. With my notorious word vomit.

Francesca (my aforementioned mentor and teacher) and I communicate regularly via Twitter. She knows what I’m going through. And I’m told she understands and knows my pain. I believe her. I trust her. So….through Twitter and through classes I’m also taking with her (I’m now on my fourth), we’ve talked a little bit about the trauma I’ve endured since mom died to date. And she offered to have one-on-one time with me in a spiritual lesson…a little faith healing if you will. That’s what I like to call it. I’m sure she also refers to it as shamanism. 🙂

So, we scheduled a time to speak, and when we did speak, it was powerful. Turns out the feelings I’ve written about are only the tip of the iceberg. For those unfamiliar with Francesca, when you do work with her, she channels. She is in trance. And what she is able to feel/see/sense is uncanny. She’s amazing.

There were many things we discussed, but one piece is prominent in my mind. Something that just rings so true! Francesca sensed that a large portion of me feels as though showing my feelings requires permission (for lack of better terms). I thought about it for a minute, and it hit me: WHAM! “Of course I feel that way!!!” See, I lived with a very strong woman. A woman who stayed strong for me, never let me see her falter. A woman who held the family together the best she could (until recent years and a very toxic addition to the family), when my grandmother passed away 15 years ago. Grandma was the glue that held the family together, and I was just as close to her as I was my mother. Only now can I appreciate the closeness of my mother and her mother. How devastating grandma’s loss was to mom. Of course, I was heartbroken and devastated over grandma’s death, but nothing compared to what my mom must have been feeling. I tell you: my mother kept her shit together! I didn’t see her cry one single time when we went back for grandma’s memorial (except during the memorial). My mother didn’t fall apart until after we’d returned to California and my subsequent departure to Nevada, where I was living at the time. She never let me see her fall apart. And not to diminish my mother’s strength or effectiveness as a good mother, I learned that through her. I don’t fall apart in public (except on Friday. That was awkward.). I keep my emotions in check around people. I keep my emotions in check at work. I even keep my emotions in check when I am at home and no one is here. I just keep my emotions in check. Period. And in this case, I did so because I am my mother’s only living heir. Her only blood relative who showed up when she passed. All of a sudden, I was in her role. I was the adult this time. I had to take care of everything this time. I had to hold it together. For her. No family was there, but I had to hold it together for her. To make sure she was taken care of. To make sure her wishes were followed. To make sure that if she was watching over me, she could see she created a strong woman of me. I thought, “I will make her proud. I will show her I can keep my head on my shoulders.” I never had a full breakdown. I cried at her memorial, yes, but not the whole time. I cried up in Oregon visiting my father and my step-mother and siblings. But I always stopped. I never let myself hit “critical mass.” I never fell apart. Because, you know, if you fall apart that means you’re not strong. Strong people don’t fall apart. Yeah, ok. I’m challenging that completely archaic and asinine belief. I said to Francesca in our session, “Who says that falling apart and picking yourself back up again means you can’t be strong?!”

Well, after hanging up with her, the thoughts and feelings that had just started to boil to the top just poured over. They wouldn’t stop coming. I lost my mom.  I was already crying on the phone, but by the time we hung up, the session with Francesca had opened the door for me. The floodgates I built up to hold my emotions in check opened. I couldn’t stop crying. And I couldn’t stop being angry. I couldn’t stop thinking, “who the hell is anyone to tell me I’m not strong!?” Oooooh……you don’t even know what strength is until you fall apart! And that’s when the anger kicked in. I started getting angry at everything. I got angry with the gods. I got angry with myself. I got angry with my mother. I got angry with the fates. I sat in my living room and screamed, “Why?! Why take my mother so early?! Fuck you! Keep throwing it at me! I will make it through this!” I was genuinely pissed off at everything. I still am. Of course, anger isn’t an emotion on its own . It’s usually present because of a different emotion: fear, betrayal, what have you.  There’s something underneath the anger.

I figured out I am angry because I am afraid. I am afraid of what my life is going to be like without mom. I’m afraid because now I truly have to stand on my own two feet. Granted, I’ve lived overseas without my mother near me for 12 years now. I know what it’s like to live on my own. I just don’t know how to live on my own. I don’t know what to do without getting mom’s input first. Don’t get me wrong. I can make decisions on my own, obviously. I’m essentially an expatriate, only not really because I work for the US Government. I’ve just been overseas a long time. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her input on those huge life changing experiences or decisions. I always asked for her advice, even if I didn’t follow it. I’m good about listening to the input then taking it into consideration. If it’s the better choice, then I’ll follow it. If not, then I don’t. What I’m afraid of is: living life without my mom. Yes, death is a part of life. I knew she would pass eventually. I didn’t expect it to be at 58 years old because of a heart attack due to pneumonia. I didn’t expect her to never go home again after she suffered a major stroke a little over a year ago. I didn’t expect it to be so soon. She was so young. Too young!!! I am afraid.

I’m angry because I feel betrayed. The most important person in my life was taken away from me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the goddess. I love several goddesses from several pantheons. It’s kind of like family….and what my mother and I always used to say to each other when we were mad at each other: “I may not always like you, but I always love you.”

To be honest, I feel cheated. I feel that my mother was cheated.  She won’t be alive when I ever remarry.  To greet her first grandchild when I have a child. I felt the goddess robbed me of more time with my mom.  I also felt guilty for moving away from my mother.  I felt guilty for not moving back to the states.  My mother didn’t want me to.  Of course she wanted her baby with her, but she always told me, “I’m your past, not your future.”  Mom…I have this to say to you: You were everything to me! Mom didn’t want me to stop my career to be at home and take care of her.  She didn’t want that life for me.  And that’s something that some people in my family don’t understand.  About her or about me.   I FEEL BETRAYED! I feel betrayed by the Great Mother. Now here is where the Catholic guilt kicks in (yes, I was raised Catholic for a time). *Gasp!* “You’re not supposed to get angry with God!” Yeah, well I am. Deal with it. I love the Great Mother. But I am angry. I know…I keep saying that. Maybe if I do keep saying it, she’ll hear me (Kidding. I know she hears me).

And while all these thoughts and feelings are running through me, I’m trying to keep my sanity in check. All I want to do is lie in bed and cry and cry and cry and cry. But I can’t. I have a life to live. I have a job to do…to keep. I have responsibilities to honor. So I have to get my emotions back in check. It’s a nasty cycle. One I have to alter to survive mentally and emotionally. How proud of me would my mother be if I just gave up like I want to? More importantly, how proud of myself would I be if I gave up? I’m no quitter. Instead, I have to break through traditional perceptions of “strength” and find my own version of it. I need that to fully become and realize the woman I truly am….and the woman my mother truly wanted me to be. Both of my mothers want me to be.

There is still a lot going on in my head and heart. Things I know I will address with Francesca in the future. Things that Francesca will guide me through. That’s what she does. She guides people. She doesn’t lead them. She talks to you. Listens to you. Throws out a glimpse of what she sees in you, and lets you run with it. Not the other way around. I’m a big ball of crazy right now, so I can only imagine where I’ll end up. Stronger on the other side of it, somehow.

If what I’m saying resonates with you, let me know. If Francesca interests you, you’ll find a link to her page on my “Who I Follow” tab.

In closing, I’ll share this:

I was recently rifling through my old writings and I found a poem I wrote several years ago when my grandmother passed.   As I read it, I realized the traits I saw and learned through my grandmother and wrote in the poem were the same traits I saw and learned through my mother.  Through my mother and grandmother I learned real, true, loyal love.  As I was still a budding writer at the time, it reads very much like a child wrote it.  And I was barely hitting 20 at the time.  It was also before I discovered that poetry didn’t have to rhyme to make sense. Anyhow, I thought it was relevant to share here.

Warm kisses felt on my aching brow
A gentle hand to calm me down
A silky voice so pure of love
Soothing words to comfort a child
A voice so sleek, so soft, so mild
A security blanket in a world so cold
A voice to teach me to be bold
A voice to give me courage in the night
A voice that inspires, says “…, take flight”
The woman who taught me much that I know
Finally broke free, found courage to go
Her lessons taught will stay in my heart
A woman and mentor who will never depart

So there is my first real purging of word vomit. Hopefully the next blog I post will be happier. Until next time….

 

So Heavy…

Been missing my mom since she had her stroke last year.  She was never the same after.  But I really miss hearing her voice right now.  And I’m really hating that I will never feel her arms around me again.  I hate knowing that even as an adult, she will never grab me, sit me in her lap, and hold me.  I will never feel her running her fingers through my hair to comfort me. 

My mom is gone.  And I haven’t felt my heart hurt like this … this level of such sorrow…since my grandmother passed away 15 years ago.  I can’t even begin to describe what this truly feels like.   The utter loss of the ONE constant I had in life.  How it feels to know that it’s only me now.  That I’m alone in that bloodline.  I’m the last…her only child.  I am her legacy.   And praying every day that I don’t fail her.

Posted from SaraKitty’s Android