Posted in Death, Life, Mom

At the beginning of life

Picture of little Mom and her Mother. Her life was just starting. I sometimes look at her, this little, and brace my heart for this poor little innocent soul that had no clue of how strong she would have to be in this hard life that was already laid out before her. How could her soul ever have signed up for so much pain? And how could mine had signed up to witness and see it all. I believe that our souls sign up for different lessons and maybe she needed to experience the many faces of pain and loss. Of what it means to start over and over again. Maybe my soul needed to experience what it means to love unconditionally regardless of how much time was wasted and how challenging of times there were. We had ten month that mattered the most. Ten month compared to a lifetime, and all I can say is that it is not enough.

I know that many things were never in my control to change, but I will forever wish that her life could have seen more sunny days and that we could have shared even more together. I miss you so much.

Posted in Death, Loss, Mom

Be still my heart

It’s only been last Friday that Mom was buried, but in a way it feels like an eternity learning about her death. There has been such a long, lingering pain that dates back so much further than September 28th the actual day of her passing.

October 1st, I boarded a plane, on the way to Germany, knowing full well I was too late this time and would not see her alive again. I arrived on the 2nd of October and said goodbye to a closed casket that later in the evening disappeared from my view in a Hearst, driving into the darkness.

Mom wanted to be cremated and all of the closer family knew that we better not put her in the ground with all the worms as she occasionally mentioned it in her serious manner when it came to that subject. I guess she needed to know that she was to be taken seriously and that she meant every word. All of us knew….

The urn would take about ten days to come back and there was a weekend and holiday in that timeframe as well. There were times I energetically connected with Mom, when I felt her presence and when she sent me a little sign like a dragonfly one day. (I will save this for another post soon.) Over the next days, I would always see that Hearst driving away with Mom lying live-less in her casket, going for her last ride. And the driver that nonchalantly just waived goodbye as if he was leaving a party while all of us stood in our grief.

Many of times my mind wandered to the crematorium and tortured myself with pictures of what the actual process might look like. It’s absolute horror when you are grieving and yet your mind loves to just add to the misery. It’s awful. Would I be able to accept her being gone, would it finally sink in that that person just is no longer? Would I get my closure or would my mind continue to torture me?

I wanted to know and yet I didn’t. On Monday I found out and received an official certificate of when and where Mom was cremated. It was very hard to see that certificate with her name on it and my heart hurts anew.

4th of October 2019 at 16:14

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

Our last walk together

Last Friday was Moms funeral and it was time for her to be laid to rest. Nearly three weeks had passed since she feel asleep for the last time and many of us were looking for some sort of closure, for a new way to emerge so we could go on. For myself, I don’t think I have found that path just yet. There are daily reminders here in the house and things that need to be taken care off.

Mom was with us the entire time during the service and she even brought a smile to my face at the end of the service, especially on this difficult day. Upon entering the church, Mom’s picture from her 80th birthday was displayed next to her urn, surrounded by a reef of flowers. Below were additional flowers from myself, her sister, and her four children, my cousins.

I woke in the morning and felt strangely calm. There was a peace, a stillness within me that felt almost strange. At some point I thought I was numb to the pain and perhaps my soul was protecting my physical body. Whatever it was, it was nothing like I had expected that the day might be like. I had feared the nosy gazes of onlookers that I remembered from my childhood during Dads funeral. Days before, I even had a bad dream that I had fallen carrying Mom’s urn, dropping and shattering it. All of these and more worries were gone, disappeared the day of Mom’s funeral, October the 18th.

Rain had been in the forecast off and on for the day, and the final word was that rain might fall in the hours after everything was over with. I think Mom had other plans as it came to that. The service was beautiful, a celebration of life for a woman who hadn’t always had the easiest of life. A life that was filled with tough years, a non existing childhood, a war, the loss of a soulmate, and pains many should not experience at such a young age. She was a strong, tough women, a fighter until the end, until hope disappeared and her quality of life was clouded and gray.

The inside church service concluded with a song from Westlife “I’ll see you again” that I had picked for Mom. After that it was my turn to carry Moms urn to the graveside. It was the hardest part of the service and I hugged and held her so tight. I was glad to walk ahead of everyone, for nobody to see my face and the pain that must have been all over it. It was difficult to set her down, to let go of the urn and to step away from it. It felt so final…so very final.

As soon as we arrived at the grave, ominous looking clouds started to form, swirling around overhead. I knew Mom was here and I loved that she made her presence known. At least to me and I’m not sure if anyone else had the same feeling. The winds picked up and the big tree at the end of the cemetery, next to the cross started to sway back and forth. There was rustle in the air as fall leaves were dancing through the sky. It was beautiful. Next the thunder was rolling, just as I thought it couldn’t get more beautiful. Such a sad occasion and yet I stood with my face up towards the heavens, smiling up at Mom, thinking it was beautiful. It was really quite strange, and all I can say is that I felt as if she was comforting me in these difficult moments, putting on this amazing nature spectacle she knew I could appreciate and recognize her being here. Now the lightning accommodated the thunder, the dark clouds swirling, and the leaves rustling in the wind. This went on for the remainder of the service.

After singing our last song, I stepped forward to the grave to say my goodbyes, to drop dirt on top of the urn that was already lowered, and to leave my flower bouquet with Mom. One after another from the family paid their last respects and stopped in front of me to shake my hand, say their condolences and wishes for me, or to give me a giant hug. Some of us had not seen each other in over thirty some years, but none of that mattered in that moment, that moment when we were reunited and shared this grief together. The heartfelt emotions touched my heart and one of my cousins hugged me so hard it initially took my breath away. It said everything, without words and it will forever stand out in my mind. Another hug came from another family member I had somehow angered unintentionally a few years back. We never quite reconciled, although I had tried, but here and now, none of it mattered and we were family once again. I was very thankful, grateful and moved. Lastly came a worker from the nursing home to lay down a flower arrangement and last greeting for Mom. I thought it was a nice touch and very thoughtful. That was until that very worker (which Mom never cared for her bossy ways) came up to me to say her condolences and hand me an outstanding bill that had arrived for Mom. Ha…really. It was the only thing I found rather tasteless and without any tact. That stamp to mail that bill must have been too much of an inconvenience, but oh well. It is what it is and I’m ok with it. Of course I have my own feelings about it, but this is so ridiculous, it doesn’t even deserve my energy, plus Mom took care of it anyways. Just wait until I tell you how. So priceless, so typical Mom.

Like I said she was the last one at the grave. After she handed me the bill, people we’re leaving. I had planned to stay behind for a bit longer. I looked at the skies and all the weather was still in motion. Straight ahead I could see the rain falling over the town Mom had spent her last year of life. It was moving rapidly towards me and would reach me in no time. Maybe it was time to leave as I started to feel big drops starting to fall. I made it to safety completely dry, but many did not. Within two minutes of completing Moms service and being handed the bill, it was as if the floodgates had opened without any warning. No, slower, light sprinkles, nothing, just Mom sending a message for the person that had given her so much grief at the nursing home. It was as she had the last laugh and I can hear her say something like “Don’t you dare worry about a measly bill of 7.50 euros on my funeral. What’s the matter with you.”

You are right and well done Mom 😉 I love you and miss you so much. ❤️

Posted in Death, Life

Flight towards the heavens

“Every Minute someone leaves this world behind.

We are all in “the line” without knowing it. We never know how many people are before us. We can not move to the back of the line. We can not step out of the line. We can not avoid the line.

So while we wait in line –

Make moments count. Make priorities. Make the time. Make our gifts known. Make a nobody feel like a somebody. Make your voice heard. Make the small things big. Make someone smile. Make the change. Make love. Make up. Make peace. Make sure to tell your people they are loved. Make sure to have no regrets. Make sure you are ready.”

Today was Mom’s funeral and it feels as if she left all over again. Sometimes I don’t know if she was ready, sometimes I know for sure, but surely I wasn’t ready to lose her. Could I have ever been?

Posted in Death, Loss, Mom

Time…

It’s almost time, and Moms funeral is on Friday. Nearly three weeks have gone by since her passing and it’s hard to believe. Everything is hard to believe, in general.

There has been no real process to the time passed. Some days are easier then others and I try to welcome and process each one. There is no right or wrong, and no timelines of where one should be in this time of grief. I think one of the biggest things I struggle with is that there was no goodbye, no closure. It feels so different now to remember that there were times when Mom got on my nerves. When I dreaded the moment of her asking me when I’d come home. I struggled so much with it because I knew it was important to her, and because I had no answers to give her. I was so sick myself. I was trying to listen to my body, to give it time, to be good and patient with myself so I could get better. And I did eventually after many month. It’s crazy where your mind goes, questioning yourself if perhaps you went too much with the flow while someone else needed you so much. I know it’s just misery and the ego that wants to torture me and despite of what everyone has told me, yet it comes down to myself and believing for myself that I did everything I could.

It’s sounds awful now thinking that there were those times. Times when Mom got on my nerve and I feared her asking that question that tore my heart apart anew every time she’d asked. Now I sort through her things from the nursing home, touching everything she once held, feeling her touch and such a loss. Sometimes I think there has to be a note to me, something, her words, anything, but there never is. Would it help if she’d said that she understood, that she was grateful and loved every minute we spent together? Would that make the goodbye more final, releasing me of the burden and the pain, or would it make it only more unbearable? It’s just so hard when you don’t get to say goodbye, when you don’t get that sort of closure. Some say it will come at the funeral but I don’t think so. It’s just a process to go through, a ritual that is performed with our lost loved ones. I truly don’t know if being by her side would have been easier, for I would have never wanted to let go of her. I would have held on to her and perhaps my heart would have broken right then and there. But this….being left behind, is so hard and one of the most challenging things you will ever have to do in your life.

Posted in Death, Loss, Mom

A difficult Day

Monday was difficult for me. I felt it right away as I woke up. I can recognize the signs as I try to cheer myself up, distract myself, and sometimes I even manage. But there are others, I don’t. It always starts innocent and I don’t even realize what I’m doing, but when I do, it’s usually game over and I lose. Today I lost. I couldn’t get myself out of the rut. We can’t win all the time can we, and processing pain, dealing with it instead of distracting myself from it is actually healthy and necessary.

Today, I saw her everywhere in everything I did and it hurt to do it alone and without her. My distraction technique failed me today, and finally I gave in to the pain and let it run freely through my veins. I lit a candle in church for you today Mom, sitting there in silence between the sobs of my heart, while watching it burn down. I couldn’t watch it until the end, and the flame going out would have been too symbolic and painful for me. So instead I left just like I always did, with you staying behind, very much a part of everything.

The funeral is coming up this Friday and everything feels like such a long goodbye already. It’s been years actually and this final one feels so different and cold. It’s hard to believe, I’ve been here nearly two weeks already.

Tonight my heart is heavy as I cope and find the means to go on without her in my life. I know she never really left, and that she is always with me and by my side. And yet some days it’s just not enough in this sense.

Posted in Death, Life, Loss

Part of me died when you left

At one time or another you’ve probably heard someone say that when a person you love dies, a part of you dies too.

I always knew this to be true, and each time when someone close to me left this world, a part of me left as well. At first I used to think that was just a beautiful figure of speech, a touching poetic image that spoke symbolically to the depth of our profound sadness and loss.

That was until last week—when I died all over again.

My father passed away suddenly more than 45 years ago, and I have been no stranger on this painful road I’ve traveled since then.

Last week I’ve lost my mother and again I find myself back at this winding road that meanders through The Valley of loss, the sticky swamp of emotions, and beautiful mountain top sunrises that fill me with incredible gratitude and love. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that climbs to beautiful heights, only to plummet to the deepest of depths shortly after. Over the years I have mainly grieved naturally, allowing my feelings to come and go and it’s a healing process for me to not try and control these moments.

Recently though, I came face to face with the me who also left for good, on the day each of my parents did.

Over the course of 55 years, there are many profound memories shared, although we lived so far apart from each other once I moved to the States. I remember special moments shared with dad only where it was just the two of us. The same thing goes for Mom, as I had much more time with her vs my Dad. As you do when you lose someone you love, I often find myself randomly rewinding to those places and times in the past, to remind myself of the love and adventures and the laughter we shared.

One of those cherished memories was playing cowboys and Indians with Mom and recalling funny stories and memories with Dad.

In the beginning it was an incredible struggle for her to talk about these moments because they were associated with her pain and the loss of her husband. Eventually those moments became easier and it was something special we shared, that could always be used to cheer her up.

These moments became priceless to me. Laughing about Dad answering the phone, announcing that nobody was at home and that he was asleep…silly, but that was just the point. To be silly and not take life too seriously.

Between all of that, and Mom gone too now, I find myself with her memory and the moments about her, that rest with me. They were precious times.

There are lots of other things that happened during those years. There are more stories, more conversations, more meals, more funny anecdotes—but I no longer have access to them. 

That’s what people never tell you, about the real, fundamental, life-giving stuff you lose when someone you love leaves.

You lose the part of you that only they knew.

You lose some of your story.

It simply dies.

Mom and Dad were the only ones there with me during those special moments and now that they are gone there’s no one to go to to help me relive or revisit or remember them when I want to. There’s no one to help fill in the gaps of my memories, no one to give me the pieces of life that belonged only to the three of us—and I hate that.

Any part of those days that exists outside of my memory is now dead and buried.

If you haven’t walked the Grief Valley yet, just trust me on this.

One day you will miss someone dearly and when that cold reality hits you; the truth of just how much of you is gone too, you’ll grieve the loss of yourself as well, even as you live.

One of the great things about having people who love you and who’ve lived alongside of you for a long time is how they can surprise you, how when you’re with them they can dig out a story or unveil something about you that you had totally forgotten about or had never known at all. Mom would do that all the time, matter-of-factly tossing off a random memory that allowed me to see myself through her eyes. It was like having a small lost part of you suddenly and unexpectedly returned to you.

As much as I miss them both, I miss the me that they knew, too. I grieve the loss of our shared story.

I mourn losing the childhood me who napped in their bed, and all the special memories we have shared. I miss the silly stories and even the struggles we have faced. We had a few tough ones. I miss the laughs and moments of closeness that only a child and parents can feel.

Just as sure as they aren’t coming back, neither are those parts of my story because my parents were co-owners.

Friends, as you grieve for those who are gone, know that it’s normal to also lament the part of you that they’ve taken with them.

While those experiences form you and reside deep in the fabric of your very heart, in ways that certainly transcend your memories, the painful gaps will still be there in what you lose without their eyewitness testimony.

Those aren’t just flowery words meant to simply paint a picture of grief, they’re a vivid description of real, personal loss.

A part of you does indeed die when someone you love passes away.

May they, and the unique part of you they’ve taken with them, both rest in peace.

 

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

Messages from heaven

They say when feathers appear, the angels are near.

There was an unusual amount of feathers that crossed my path the week of Moms passing. After the bad news came of Mom not doing well at all, it was for the first time that I felt as if her soul was ready to leave. Later in the week was when all the feathers appeared and still I didn’t want to believe this to be the truth, but I knew. Mom died that weekend and I still feel as if I’m stuck in a horrible nightmare. Years and years later I am walking in her shoes, doing for her what she had to do for my father as he passed. The pain is tremendous, and what a strong woman she was. How much she had to endure in her life. I know that we share this in common and I am following her footsteps, equally enduring and equally as strong. But is it ever hard.

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

A time for everything

I’ve been walking more since I got to Germany vs. the states, despite my regular two hiking days. Here it has become a cumulative, weekly effort, so far at least since it’s only my first week, but it’s good for me to be on the move.

There is so much to be done right now. Mom wanted to be cremated and the urn should come back sometime this week. There is a meeting with the pastor this Thursday who will facilitate the service and where we will discuss how things will go besides the urn being added to Dads grave. I have decided that it needs to me carrying the urn from the church to the final resting place. This is the final walk we will need to take together and I feel it in my heart that it has to be so.

Flowers need to be ordered for the grave which I was able to do already. An obituary needs to be placed into the paper and has been delivered, to be published next Tuesday. Songs have been selected for the church service and I have written Moms eulogy to give to the pastor on Thursday. I don’t know how much of it he will use and I realize that I wrote this more for myself because it is so much more then just some facts and dates about her life. It’s a life as seen through the eyes of a beloved daughter, filled with love and gratitude. It was hard to write for such a sad occasion, especially since I wanted it to be on the light hearted side. Mom endured so much pain and sorrow in her life and one of my favorite things was to make her smile. And while this is definitely not a time to smile, she would want us to remember her in our own memory and the way she was to each and every one of us. I will always see her with that beautiful smile.

There is so much to do that little time remains for grief. Yes there a moments here and there but mainly it’s being pushed away because of things that need to be powered through. Just as all these above mentioned things got completed, I thought to myself that some more tasks were accomplished, but that the hardest day, the actual day of her funeral was still ahead. Right now I feel calm and writing her eulogy actually brought a sense of peace, perhaps closure. As for the moment I want to think about “that day” as a day to celebrate her life and I will try my hardest to do so and honor the woman, my mother I loved so much. There are plenty of other times for sadness, and it might turn out completely different, but for now and as long as I can hold onto it, I will allow myself to be filled with so much more then just grief and heartache. ❤️

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

Energetically connected

Lantern burning in front of Moms room at the nursing home to say goodbye….

I found myself in amazement that I managed to stay up past 11PM the day of my arrival. Now with a few days here already, it seems like distant memory. I am yet to sleep a full night though and I’m running on fumes. The long trip, car ride and emotional viewing of Mom, I put it all behind me and my body just powered through it all. Performing for me when being strong was the only choice there was. The last couple of days have been filled with sadness and sorrow, but also a certain numbness and shock I haven’t quite got past. It’s surreal, almost like wanting to wake up from a bad, bad dream. The moment I was so afraid of, and of which I knew I had to face sooner or later, had come faster than anticipated. Mom was this sick before, but her decline was rapid and then I had that hunch feeling that this was her time. Oh how I fought that feeling, how much I wanted to be wrong, for it to not be the truth, but it would be so sooner then I could imagine.

I was filled with a deep sense of loss, but also a sense of relief for her suffering to have ended. The scare about this moment had finally realized. How many years had I been afraid, afraid of the message, the call, that very moment. Of course I knew the answer and it was this way for as long as I could remember, or so it seemed….

Once in bed, I fell asleep rather quickly, but only for a short time. Pretty soon I was awoken, and immediately I recognized the feeling, I had felt this before. It was the same phenomenon as my dog passed away, and last year with a very emotional occurrence involving Dad.

It was around 1AM that I woke from a bright flash of light shining directly into my face. The light was so bright that I squinted my already closed eyes shut even tighter. Could I have been dreaming….no…I knew this was different, and immediately I knew what it was. Mom was trying to communicate with me. The light was brief and darkness once more filled the room. For the next two hours my phone lit up, notifying me that a message had come through, except there was no physical messages. No notifications, no emails, no alerts, nothing. Just the notification sound and lit up phone. This is not the first time this has happened and besides my dog, I also believe that it was a way Dad tried to contact me last year. It was very similar and the feel was the same. This is now the third time this has happened to me, and it can’t be chalked up to coincidence, or some kind of maintenance, etc. You just know, although you can’t explain it. It’s nothing you have ever felt, nothing familiar, nothing you can compare it with, and yet you know and it seems perfectly normal, making perfect sense. To you at least.