Grieving During a Pandemic

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

The last time I called my mother on the phone she sounded terrible. She was tired and had “had a bad night” so was resting. My oldest played his viola for her and then we hung up so she could rest.  Later, I called my older sister to tell her how bad she sounded and my sister told me that my mother had been rushed to the hospital and had been intubated. My mother, who suffered from heart failure, had had several frightening medical emergencies.  Even as serious as having been shocked back to life, and I was never once afraid of losing her. But when my sister told me what happened, my fear shot sky-high.  “I’m afraid, and I’ve never been afraid before,” I told my husband while I fought tears. That fear was what frightened me.

I sometimes think I somehow know when to be afraid and when not to be.  Like when my sister had her stroke and needed lifesaving surgery, I knew she’d be okay-and she came through it. Or like when my friend Marcia told me she was diagnosed with colon cancer and I spent the entire day in bed crying. And she passed within the year.

I was incredibly lucky- this happened at the end of March and I was able to fly to Florida and see and speak to her before she passed-it was just as things were starting to close down. I wanted to stay with her until the end, but I was fearful that the country would close down so I left her in her hospice room and under the watchful eyes of my older sister and brother.

My last time with her I didn’t really get to talk to her much, she was tired from her ordeal and needed rest. But I read to her from a horrid Christian romance that she really hoped to finish, and she told me that was the first time anyone had ever read to her. So I try to hold on to that.

At that time my husband was still working nights at the hospital, so I slept on the couch. Each night while mom was in hospice I lit a taper candle and let it burn through the whole night. I’d blow it out when I woke in the morning.

Since she passed, I keep my brain occupied pretty much all the time. I do not sit alone with a quiet mind. I am avoiding the grief and am keeping my grief at bay by reading about pandemics and playing Sims 4.  I stay awake at night scrolling until I fall asleep from exhaustion. Then I wake in the morning, get the kids up, get them to their pandemic schooling, and start work. I’m currently living in the realm of denial.

The grief does pop out sometimes.  Like when I’m driving somewhere-I most often called her between destination. I feel her absence most during these times. Or when I talk about her, which I haven’t been doing much of-you know, cuz keeping the feels away, right?

Today I called her former elderly and ill neighbor to see how she was doing. I know my mother would want me to help look after her. Doing this, writing this part- this is what brings the tears.  I’m not sure why, but after the call is when I cried.  It seems I cry most when I am thinking about my mother in reference to other people. Like how she used one of her last phone calls for my husband so she could tell him how much she loved him. Or how Kindred cried when he found out she was dying. Or when I call her former neighbor to make her promise me she’ll tell me if she needs groceries. This is when the tears fall.

I don’t know how to grieve right now. Healthy or not, it is how it is for now. When we finally have a memorial I expect it will come down like a crashing flood. But for now, I will plug along and keep things running at home and keep playing Sims 4.

Below is a video by Novo Amor-one of the only things I feel like listening to. Their music is beautiful, the videos are visually stunning. Please enjoy.

Cog in a Wheel:

Disclaimer: I told my husband I would write today-this is covering some of the thoughts and conversations I have had with many of my working mother friends. Us Gen-X/Y mothers. We are tired. But don’t worry about me, I’m okay. All these feelings don’t belong to me. And look, I wrote something! Even if it is just a shitty blog.

One never means to disappear, certainly not from their own life. Disappearing happens slowly, so slowly that the soon to be Disappeared doesn’t even notice it happening. It starts with a “no, it’s okay, I’ve got it” and a “Sure, I’ll take care of that, just let me juggle a few things” and it ends with you looking longingly at the wide-open water and wondering how far you can walk before you run out of breath. And would anyone notice?

Then comes the crushing guilt, because the voice in your head chides you for not being grateful for the things you have. For wanting more or better or different or less. You are discontent and the world tells you that you were made to be happy doing a job handed to you before you even knew you wanted it. Before it was even a question in your mind. Your job was to grow up, work, have a family, be a wife, be a mom, be a daughter, sister, mother, friend… and never be a person. You never realized that you signed your name on the life contract that would relegate you to being a cog in a wheel of an ever-moving, never-ending machine of life that only sometimes brings joy but often grief. This machine of life is a cruel trick sold to you from the inside pocket of a snake-oil trader. They sell you a dream happiness-just out of reach but attainable- if… if… IF. Ifs into perpetuity.

The truth of the machine was found in the fine print and it plainly states- Use at your own risk. May come with great bliss, will absolutely come with crippling grief, and the most you can hope for is contentment with moments of joy found between the swells of hardship. The machine is no machine after all. It is a wavy water body that is sometimes calm, sometimes stormy, and always moving. You just need to acclimate to the temperature and hope you have the stamina to keep treading water. True, the bliss is so worth it, but also true is that the hard parts rarely feel worth it. Do not be ashamed of being tired of it, of being unhappy, discontent, angry, hostile, sad…. It is normal to be all things. We are all tired and right now the world doesn’t offer a lot to believe in. We are living in a time of darkness and it’s okay to feel shitty-don’t judge yourself. Everyone is hurting.

So sisters, swim on. Find one another and help each other stay afloat. Recognize what you need and make it happen. Love yourself. Be a priority. Force yourself to do things like write a shitty blog or play an old piano. It’s time we stop giving every last ounce of ourselves to everyone else, everything else. We need to put on our own masks first friends. Whatever is your oxygen, keep that handy, I’m not sure when life will get easier, but a mask will help you breathe underwater.

 

FIE! FIE!

I am filled with a boiling rage.  If you don’t know why then read this and take your pick.

My Aussi friend asked me where I was going to flee.  At first I said I was going by way of Canada since I have friends who will take me in.  But then I said that I was not going to go (obviously we were joking) because we are massive.  We, all those of us who marched in the streets around this country, we are bigger.  We must fight, we have two years to to get our voice into a position of power.  So I stay and fight.  You fight too! Find your local political party and get involved, educate your friends and young people about inclusion and how to be an ally and how to just be a caring and compassionate individuals.

Fie is the word that screamed in my head.  It is used to register disgust or outrage, or in my case-both.  And I am angry.  So angry that I need to stop writing for fear of saying things out of emotion instead of intellect. I’ve already written and erased several ranting paragraphs.  So instead, I am going to remind you of this.  How we felt, what Obama gave us when he was elected.  Hope and inspiration.  We can still hold on to this. I think many of us agreed we became complacent once Obama made it in.  We took for granted that our country moved forward.  We couldn’t imagine it would fall backward so much.  So harshly.  So – constant vigilance, my friends.  Yes we can! Don’t give up.  We can do this!

Now What?

As we drove into the state of Michigan, from a sea of pink hats to a dense fog of red voters, I wondered what would be next. Would I have the courage to wear my hat and pins proudly without my pink brothers and sisters beside me? Where would I find my infusion of Fight the Man?  Would I  come home without a plan?

This morning I woke in a funk, the fog outside still lingering around to remind me of the lack of clarity I felt for our future. What was next?

I didn’t want to do anything- just sleep. But I decided to work out and while I did I had a great text convo with a friend who was also in a funk. She didn’t feel like working out either-she’d been watching coverage and the press conference and feeling disheartened.

I told her to guck Trump! (Thank you autocorrect) and that I didn’t stand for four hours in a sea of flesh and pink hats so Trump could make her fat and lazy. I was trying to be funny but it sparked a great “What’s Next” chat. And it distracted me from the fact I was working out.

Let me just tell you. Something is next. Something is coming down the pipes and we are over one million strong. We are legion upon legion. Compared to us, legion is tiny.

Day one-ready to kick ass.


If you don’t know what to do next www.womensmarch.com/100 has some ideas. And find out when/where your next meeting is. I saw this in FB-volunteer to organize it. Find your people and get together to make our world a world we can be proud of. Proud on everyone’s behalf.

And for you non-FB people -here is my D.C. Wrap up video. Maybe it’ll help fire you up.

Vast Sea of Humanity

We are the popular vote! 

What an amazing day! I don’t know what media is saying, but this is a vast movement of human beings fighting for human rights. And not just here. 

I don’t know the count yet, but it has got to have been over 500,000. Men, women, children, LGBTQ young, old, people of all color.  I don’t know what the media is saying about yesterday- but there was barely anyone here for Trump. It was pink hats everywhere. 

My cell signal was non existent but at one point an alert got through from WA Post saying the march was canceled due to the size of the crowd. Yeah- that didn’t happen. The march took over and headed past Trump’s Hotel (stopping to chant SHAME! and Booo!) then headed to the whitehouse. 

Everywhere- everywhere- people standing, marching and shouting for equality. 


Art of Tea (and friend ) Making 

It’s the end of our day – we are chilling and getting ready to head to bed. 

We found ladies at DuPont Circle who are organizers for their state – they told us where Michigan was meeting up- and we got pictures. 

Then we headed to the Women’s Democratic Clubhouse where we got free Make America Gracious again hats. There we ran into a woman who saw us talking to the bikers in Krispy Kreme. They were from Tennessee and we talked at length about what was next for our country. She had her young adult daughters with her, we told them they had an important role to play. 

Later we ran into some older ladies with Pussycat hats that seemed lost. They had just arrived from OK and were a tiny bit lost. A local woman came up to us, because of our hats, and offered to help us. She sent Oklahoma on their way and walked us to a Moroccan restaurant for dinner. We hugged and she went on her way. 

Our Moroccan waiter was so gracious and likable. He spent a great deal of time explaining to us the importance of making tea properly. Then we had some pretty amazing tea. The food was good as well. 

At the end of the day Sarah Jane said, “this has been a really great day!” Then caught herself and corrected, “and a really horrible day”.

All in all, all I’ve felt so far is copious amounts of love. Women & men all over the place wearing pink hats and waving from windows. Yelling hello and talking to us through their restaurant windows – showing off their shirts and thumbs upping our hats and buttons. This city is full of life and purpose, and hope too I think. 

(Below) Donkey display at the Dem Clubhouse 

Free poster from the Women’s Dem Clubhouse

Unsure if this Tom Foolery or a dire warning, but we saw this!

The little tea pot at the restaurant 

The Only Way Out of the Maze is Up

On our trek to the closest Methodist church we ran into a group of bikers that were trying to occupy DuPont Circle. There were only about 20-30 bikers there.  And a whole lot of pro pot peeps across the street. 

We stepped into a Krispy Kreme to get a coffee and found myself in line with a very large biker. We started chit chatting -he came from PA with his biker friends. He was sporting a confederate flag and various pins- but called the African American cashier “little miss”- which was not only cute but sweet. I was sporting my pink pussy hat (thanks mom! Making a lot of friends with it!)

He made a comment under his breath about Black Lives Matter starting a fight with some bikers. We talked about violence and that I was here for tomorrow. I paid for his coffee over his protestations. Then we talked about my hat. He is of the mind that what Trump 😡 said was 10 years ago and that his wife wasn’t angry. I politely came back with stats and my hope that I can begin to expect more from the men in my country. 

He talked about how he smacked a man for smacking his daughter in the face. That he doesn’t abide abuse against children. We were both polite and kind and we left feeling like we had a little bit in common. 

Still in search our our church we stopped by a burned out church that was a victim of arson in 1970. There was prayer labyrinth in the church square where a homeless man sat. 

“How do you get out,” asked Sarah Jane.  

“The only way out of the maze is up.” Answered the homeless man. 

So it is.