“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”  ~ Winnie the Pooh

So, I’ve been reading through the 2 years of blog posts I’ve written and it’s funny to see how much my life has changed. What was such a big deal at one time is nothing now and I know that in terms of relationships and break-ups, time truly does heal all wounds. How weird to see people I thought were so important to me be nothing more than a blip now. It’s nice to know the heart really does have the power to mend in these cases.

Almost every one of my posts has ma in it somewhere…even if it’s just apologizing for saying fuck. But wanna be in on a secret? Ma used to say it too every once in a while…probably 3 times in her life in front of me and always laughed and turned red when she did. So many of my posts talk about the fun we had together, conversations we trudged through, trips we took, and the list goes on.

Even though I am still in shock and a bit of denial (T and I both share these feelings), I am starting to see her everywhere…metaphorically. I did dishes today and she was there…standing over my shoulder at holidays with pursed lips telling me I didn’t rinse a cup well enough. On my way to school I realized that EVERY single place I pass is somewhere ma and I went: restaurants, stores, thrift shops, etc. I ordered a couple of African Violets just now (my new obsession…gramma and ma both loved them and I’m feeling it too 🙂) and it made me think of when I was a little girl and she had yellow shelving pop put together for her with violets covering them. I know I got my green thumb from her. I put a book on reserve at our library and thought about how ma went there every single week for all of her adult life. Every week. She was a voracious reader and T and I share that trait. Her favorite thing was to soak in a warm bubble bath with a little bowl of chocolate covered anything and read and snack. When T and I are doing things in her house I see her at her quilting machine…cross stitching on the couch…making the best chili in the world.

I think about our inside jokes…how we used to sign greeting cards with funny names or things we’d say while playing cards. She had such a great sense of humor and ‘got’ me more than anyone else ever has.

How can you describe someone who was your world? What words can possibly illustrate the scope of her in my life? The place in my heart? The memories in my head? It’s such an indescribable feeling to not only lose someone you loved more than life itself but to have your world so shaken up. Turned around. Changed forever.

Being Prof K helps a lot during the day…it gives me purpose and direction during this time of numbness. My students are absolutely freaking amazing and are so sweet in how they’ll ask how I am. But when I’m at home? It’s like I’m sleepwalking through life outside of campus. I can’t sew. I don’t know if I ever will again…T can’t either and ma’s bestie said the same thing to me yesterday. I’ve been doing huge jigsaw puzzles while listening to audiobooks for something to focus on but I hear her voice in my head telling me to work on the border first. Even writing this is hard…not because of the content and the fact I’m crying, but because ma always read my posts. Always praised them. Always told me how proud she was of me.

T and I are taking things one day at a time and I’m focusing on being there for O…he loved his gramma so much. Even Edward and Mally run to the door when someone pops over and I can see sadness in Ed’s eyes when it’s not ma. There was nothing he liked better than trying to lick her ears when she was on the couch.

So many people at school who have lost a parent have sought me out and talking to them helps. One friend said that I’ll never ever get over the grief completely…never have my world the same way again…but that you learn to live with it. That it’s going to take me a while. I know that my heart won’t mend this time…it will scab over but the hurt will be there. Always.

Today, a friend told me a quote by Winnie the Pooh:  “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I was gobsmacked by this because it made me realize that ma was such an amazing person who I got to have for 55 years. But unlike Pooh, I’m never going to say goodbye. I’ll always talk to her. Always love her. Always miss her. And always work to make her proud.

I keep greeting cards I get and ma used to give me a lot of them. One of them I found said this: “You are loved and adored and I’m proud to be your ma.” What a great feeling to know she felt this way. What a gift. What a wonderful message that I can hold onto for the rest of my life.

Love you ma. Love you more.

Kristi xoxo

“When you Love Someone” ~ Bryan Adams

So, it’s been 2 weeks since ma died and the emotions I’m feeling are all over the place. I grieved my grandparents and was devastated by their deaths but ma’s has hit me like a truck. It’s almost like my brain doesn’t know how to process all of this yet.

Elisabeth Kubler- Ross wrote about 5 stages of death in her 1969 book called “On Death and Dying”. I’ve never read this entire book but am aware of the stages from psychology – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Obviously these stages are going to be traversed through differently by everyone and they aren’t necessarily linear. However, I know that I’m in the denial stage which is common after a quick death.

An article in Washington.edu talks about the stress and trauma that grief entails and how it can overwhelm the person grieving. The stress hormones released affect sleep, appetite, ability to focus, feeling detached from self and others, and an overall feeling of constantly being in a nervous state physically and emotionally. I know my heart rate is higher (an effect of the sympathetic nervous system being the cause of the release of the stress hormones) and eating is difficult. I’m ‘forcing’ myself to eat meals but honestly, snacking and eating comfort food is a norm for me right now. Thank the Lord for peanut butter and jelly.

Me, ma and T!

In the same article it talks about what these stages of grief look like and denial includes: avoidance, procrastination, forgetting, easily distracted, mindless behaviors, keeping busy all of the time and saying “I’m fine” when asked.

If this were a checklist, I’d have a red mark by all of them. I know I’m avoiding the permanence of ma being gone. When I allow myself to think about it, I become so overwhelmed at the thought of my life without her that I can’t handle that flood of emotions yet. I find myself shutting it down. Keeping busy helps me postpone this grief I need to process: my house has never been cleaner and I’ve read more books these past 2 weeks than in the previous 2 months. I may not be absorbing what I’m reading but it’s an escape.

Experts say this denial can feel like shock, numbness, confusion and just shutting down…all things I relate too.

My sissy and son are being awesome. T and I are both grieving and I know she’s having trouble processing our loss as well. O was very close to his gramma and misses her terribly. We check in with one another and support each other the best we can.

Ma and Mally!

I feel guilty that I’m not crying all of the time. I feel like I’m not doing this ‘grief thing’ right. I’m scared this weight will be with me always because I’ll never allow myself to work through it. But, it’s comforting to know that denial is common, but losing ma so quickly is still hard to comprehend.

All I know is this: ma was an amazing mom to me. I loved her more than words can ever say and I know she loved me more than anyone else on the earth ever has. I think that’s why this is so hard for me to face: to think this one person is now gone and I won’t feel that depth of love anymore. I have a huge depth of love for O…but he also has his own life and his own love and his expression of his love for me is very different from ma’s. My family is not touchy-feely at all…just me. Ma hugged and kissed me every time I was with her and she fulfilled that need for affection that I have. I miss that so so much.

I also miss having someone I can lean on during this (aside from my fam). Being alone is tough right now…I wish I had someone ‘there’ that I could hug and cuddle and get comfort from. Luckily, Edward and Mally are sweeties and they’ve never been hugged more in their lives…they’re loving it!

Anyhoot, I miss ma more than I can say and it’s so overwhelming that when you lose a parent, you are losing the way your world has always been.

Love you ma. Love you more.

Kristi xoxo

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