Letters to Mom 029: Worksheet 1 Reflection

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I’m writing to you again because I’m not going to have time to for the next few days. At least, not the type of time I would want to have, where I can sit, alone, uninterrupted or dictated by a time frame.

I can truly sit and write to you, now, in this moment, and so even though I’m still so raw over completing my worksheet, even though I want to quit and call today good, I’m writing to you instead.

Some of my answers bother me. I know I have strengths. Yet I said I don’t because I feel like I don’t. Answering, “learning I can survive your death sucks” also bothers me though with that one I don’t really know why…

I guess the biggest thing I took away from this first worksheet is clarity. I can articulate why your death is so hard for me now. It wasn’t simply because you died. It’s because my life changed and the biggest change is the lack of physical presence.

I guess that might seem obvious to others, but it wasn’t obvious to me. I had never had to explain it in quite that way before, and so the worksheet helped in that regard.

I also knew, for a while now, that my grief was more intense when I was tired and exhausted, but I didn’t know the why behind it. Sitting and diving into that aspect brought a deeper understanding of what I experience in those moments. You always had a special way of giving me a motivational boost when I felt like I had nothing left within me. You helped me power through, dig deep, not quit, not give in. I miss that. I miss your support and encouragement and positive reinforcement.

I feel, at least from this worksheet, that I need to work on emotional expression. Maybe that means I need to put more effort into writing since I know that’s an outlet that helps. Maybe I need to look into other methods of expression so I have more to employ other than writing. I don’t know, but I feel that is an area of extreme deficiency and one I would like to work on.

And yeah… the whole “Your death wasn’t the end of my world,”… I don’t know what to do with that. I’m not even sure what it is I feel when I read those words to myself. Guilt, maybe? Possibly even survivor’s guilt though I wasn’t the one who was sick and going through surgery after surgery.

I think that’s what I want to explore the most in my next counseling session, though “want” is a very relative term. It’s the section of the worksheet that stirs up the most confusion and dissonance within myself, so it’s the area that needs the most clarification. I don’t “want” to dig deep into emotions that suck, but the only way to get better is to do it, so I want to do it… Fucking emotional bullshit… -_-;

I work for the next three days. I won’t have a lot of time or energy to process through a lot of this any further than I have. LPN classes start in a week and a half. By the end of May, I’ll be a nurse. I got my very own stethoscope yesterday when I picked up the last of my books.

I think that would make you smile. Nurse Jen… Who would have thought that me, your child who passed out at the sight of blood, would be in nursing school…

I love you, mom. Thanks for listening to me.

Letters to Mom 028: Worksheet 1

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Hey mom,

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything… I started doing grief worksheets in counsling. I think they’re helping… I don’t know. I feel raw right now. I’ve realized I still have a lot to work on/through in regards to losing you. There are some mentalities that I need to address…

I wanted to post my first worksheet so you can see what I wrote. I love you. Forever and for always.


Understanding My Grief

1: I am having the hardest time adjusting to:

You not being here. Physically here. A presence, a person, I can sit across from. Someone I can introduce people to. You were more than your body, but without your body present, it’s not much different than talking about an imaginary friend. No one in my life will know you now. No one will understand what I lost when you died. If I talk about my spiritual connection with you then people think I’m crazy or unstable or having a “hard time letting go”. It sucks. I know you’re still here but I can’t talk about that with really anyone because no one can understand the connection I have with you so does it even really exist? Is it a coping mechanism inside my head that really means nothing? Is it real? Are you truly still here? I don’t have a way to prove it. There’s nothing quantitative that scientifically shows that I’m not alone; that you really are still a part of my life. It’s just me, alone, being my own cheerleader and telling myself the motivational things I want and need to hear to keep going and fighting and struggling and trying. It sucks. It sucks to feel ridiculed and judged and scared to talk about things that are important to me. You ARE important to me. You’re still a cornerstone of who I am and it feels like I can’t share that with anyone anymore. Our relationship isn’t physical, tangible, viewable anymore. It’s all hippy-dippy spiritual stuff with self-imposed importance. No one understands it, not even myself. It’s new and different and scary and I miss the way things used to be.

2: I feel most triggered when I:

Am tired. More than anything I miss you the most when I don’t get enough sleep. When I’m running on fumes and I feel like my world is going to crush me. That’s when I want to hear your voice the most. That’s when I want to call you and tell you how my day went and what my next days look like. That’s when I want your support the most. It’s not even that you would tell me how to fix my problems. You would just be there. You would listen to me. You would make me feel like everything is and will be ok and that I can handle all of the shit I put myself through. You would make me believe in myself no matter how much I wanted to give up. You always believed in me.

Aside from being tired, I am most triggered when I accomplish something. When I reach a goal or hit a new personal record. When I do something you would be proud of. I feel triggered then. Everyone thinks these things are good things and that I should be happy, and part of me is. But part of me is sad, too, and hurts, and no one understands why, or they think I shouldn’t feel that way because you would be happy for me. It makes me feel invalidated or that my emotions are wrong because other people dance around them or try to sweep them under the rug. I know they’re not easy emotions for other people to deal with, and part of that is a flaw, a shortcoming in society. But it sucks to feel like I have to hide my emotions all the time, or deal with them alone because I “shouldn’t” feel a certain way. I miss you. I still want you to be part of my life. I still want you to be part of my accomplishments and when you can’t be it hurts, deeply, and to feel like I am wrong for hurting sucks.

3: What happens when I feel triggered?

I cry, sometimes. Other times I lay in bed all day and skip out on the social obligations I’ve given myself. Everything takes more energy than it “should”. Doing dishes or laundry, replying to an email… All of those small, simple things that should be easy to complete feel like mountains that I don’t have the fortitude to climb because what’s the point when you’re dead? All of the trivial things in life feel so much more pointless because in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter. I hurt. I’m bleeding out through a wound no one can see. In those moments the only thing I care about is surviving, somehow, to the next day where I can maybe, hopefully, be better enough, recovered, enough to keep going and do more than I did the previous day.

When I’m extremely triggered I scream. Normally this is while I’m driving alone; where I”m safe from other people and their judgement and worry. I scream until my throat is raw and my voice is hoarse and I have nothing left in my body to give. I scream my rage and injustice and injury into the universe even though I know my anguish means nothing to it. Sometimes I hurt so much that I can’t keep it contained within my being. I HAVE to scream or I’ll suffocate under the burden that is your loss. I haven’t done that in a while. I don’t do it as much as I used to. But it still happens and I’ve learned to not deny those moments their time. They help me survive and if they help me survive then hopefully they’re not a bad thing.

4: Who and/or what is providing support during this time?

Ox provides the most support. He’s the one who listens to me. He’s the one who lets me read my writings out loud. He’s the one who holds me and lets me cry. He’s the one who lets me say “I feel alone” even as he’s holding me. I know it has to be hard for him. I can only imagine how it must feel for your significant other to say “I feel alone” when there’s literally no space between you. He lets me break down. He lets me be vulnerable and sad. He helps me take small steps on the days where I feel like I can’t get out of bed. We’ll do something connective, or he’ll simply let me stay in bed next to him. He has never once made me feel bad or weak for being injured and I appreciate that.

5: When I think about the one I lost I immediately feel:

Hurt. I don’t know if there are words to accurately describe what it is I feel, but hurt is the best term I can think of. My chest feels tight. My heart feels like it’s trying to shatter into thousands of pieces. I feel weak, and small, and vulnerable and broken. I feel like I’ll never be able to be the person I was before; carefree and whole. I feel like I’ll never be able to love the way I did before because I’m so aware of how things can change; how the one you love can suddenly no longer be there and the pain that loss can and will cause. I feel scared because I know I’ll experience grief again and I’m not sure how I’ll be able to handle it next time. I don’t know if it will be the situation that wins because I’m already so tired trying to understand and make peace with the grief I feel for you. I feel battle weary when I think of your death. I feel like I lost my companion and no one will ever be able to fill the spot you held in my life quiet the way you filled it.

6: I express my emotions by:

Not. Lawl… Seriously though, I tend to not express my emotions. I acknowledge that I don’t feel ok, but very rarely do I have a proper coping mechanism that lets me deal with those emotions. I sleep a lot. I stay away from people more. I wait until I feel better, but I don’t know of anything that actually helps to make me FEEL better. It’s like ripping open a healing wound. The only thing you can do is wait for it to heal up again. Nothing makes it heal faster. You just have to give it time and wait and hope it doesn’t get infected or worse.

7: I give myself permission to process what I am feeling by:

Being alone and not giving myself shit for it. By crying because for a while I used to get upset at myself for doing that. Screaming. Writing. Thinking. I give myself permission to feel unconditionally. My emotions are not wrong and they are valid regardless of what they are.

8: What strengths do I have from previous experiences that can help me during this time?

I don’t know. I don’t feel that I have strengths. I go day by day hoping that I make it through and that I do well and that I don’t fuck up. I have no plan for what I’m doing with my life. It’s mostly, “This seems like a good idea…” But is it really? I don’t have you to talk to. I don’t have your perspective. I don’t know how you handled Mawmaw and grandaddy dying. I don’t know how you got through it so I don’t know how I’m supposed to get through it. I’m trying so hard. I’m doing what I think is my best, but is it? Could I be doing better? Do you think I’m doing well? I don’t know what to do, mom. I really don’t and I’m sorry.

9: During this process, I have learned that:

I can survive the death of you. I wish I couldn’t. I wish that was the worst thing that could happen to me and that it would kill me and that it would all be over and we could be together again. But here I am, 4 and a half years later, still going, still accomplishing, still having people think that I’m strong and amazing and a mentor and a role model. I’m on anti-depressants because I can’t cope effectively with my life without them. I bury myself in pointless tasks because staying busy keeps me distracted from my grief rather than actually doing anything about it.

I’ve learned a lot of things about myself, about my grief, about other people, especially those in my life. But I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned; that your death wasn’t the end of my world, and for me that sucks.

Letters to Mom 027: Gloves

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Mom, I really need to talk to you. Of all of the things I haven’t written to you about, I’m ashamed that I need your insight over gloves.

The thing that pushes me to write and reach out to you isn’t passing my first semester of nursing school. It’s not to let you know that I was diagnosed with cancer, or that I had surgery, or that I’m recovering well enough though I still give myself shit for “not being better”.

No. It’s nothing all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a pivotal point in my life; maybe my career. It might make my life hell for the next forever and though I feel I did the right thing, though I’ve talked to several people who agree I did the right thing, it’s you who I want to say those words.

Fuck my life, mom. Fuck my sense of justice and integrity. I couldn’t just let this go and now I might have ruined everything.

Today as we were leaving work, the RN I was working with took a handful of gloves.

RN: I need to stop for gas on the way home. Have to stay safe out there.

I watched her take the gloves. I didn’t try to stop her. I didn’t say anything about, “You shouldn’t take those.” I did nothing except let it happen.

I was so bothered by it though. We’re in a pandemic and you’re going to take supplies meant to provide care for our patients and use them to pump gas? That’s not right. None of that is right.

I was so conflicted, mom. I still am. I called Ox and I told him what had happened and that I didn’t know what to do. This is the RN who had an issue with me coloring during my downtime at work. Was I bothered simply because I wanted to retaliate?

No… I was bothered because we as employees of our company signed a contract saying we wouldn’t take work supplies for personal use. That’s theft. It doesn’t matter that it was gloves. It could have been anything. A handful of paper towels. Masks. Hand sanitizer. It could have been anything that the company ordered for the clinic.

Our supplies are meant for the clinic, not for you. If you want to use gloves while you pump gas then go buy a box of gloves from the store like every other person who doesn’t work in the health care field has to do. That’s why I go out and buy my own page protectors from Office Depot rather than taking a pack from the stash at work.

Could I? Yes. Do I? No, because I said I wouldn’t.

Ox encouraged me to reach out to my FA. Maybe the RN had spoken to her about taking a few gloves. Maybe there was more to the situation I didn’t know about. That was a valid point. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

So I called. I asked if anyone on our team as asked to use work supplies for personal matters.

FA: What do you mean?

Fuuuuuuuck…

So I explained the situation.

FA: No. No one talked to me about that. This is an issue. We can’t have this happening.

There is going to be a message sent to all of us at the clinic in regards to supplies. The RN is going to know it’s me. My FA said she was going to talk to the RN directly as well. I guess that’s already happened since the RN tried to call me. I didn’t answer… most likely not helping my situation… That’s a problem for future me.

I can already hear Future Me bitching…

Present Me: You’re welcome. : D

I work with her Monday, mom. I’m dreading it and it’s only 7 pm. I’ve been off work for three hours and I’m already so ready to not go to work I’ve thought about quitting so I don’t have to be alone with this person.

I talked to dad, asking for his perspective as a manager. I’ve talked to Allison about it, too, since she was a high-level manager for a while.

They both feel I did the right thing for the right reasons. My FA is paid way more than me to take in information like this and to choose the best course of action. I am not responsible for what my FA does with the information. I am not responsible for how my coworker reacts to my FA’s choices.

But I work with her, mom. I might have just fucked everything up. Over gloves…

But it’s not the gloves that are the issue. The core of this whole thing is that taking something that isn’t yours is wrong. She wouldn’t have taken the gloves if she had been working with my FA instead of me, so why was it ok today? If I would have gotten in trouble for it, why would she think she’s above the same expectations? Is it because I’m just a PCT? Because I never say anything? Because I wouldn’t “snitch”?

Is this snitching? We’re in a pandemic and supplies are back-ordered and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and you’re taking the supplies we need for our patients. You’re stealing from our patients. We NEED those supplies to ensure we maintain proper infection control during their procedures. What happens if gloves become an issue?

Should the pandemic thing even matter? At the root of it all, you said you wouldn’t take supplies and you did. You lied. You stole.

As employees of the company, we are mandated reporters for stuff like this. If it had been found out that this happened, and I knew about it, and I didn’t do anything or report it, I’m not exempt from consequences. If someone saw me doing something wrong, they are expected, mandated, to report it.

“It’s just gloves.”

That’s what keeps going on inside my head right now, mom. It’s just gloves. I get it. It can seem dumb when you focus on the object rather than the action. It was theft. Blatant. Intentional. As if I didn’t matter; didn’t exist. As if my words wouldn’t invoke reactions and consequences. As if my own moral character didn’t matter.

My life is going to suck at work for the next forever, mom. She’s going to out for blood. Everything I do is going to be wrong. Every break I take. Every time I step off the floor. Everything I do is going to have a flaw in her eyes.

It was the right choice for my peace of mind. It was the wrong choice if I wanted an easy life.

I guess that’s something… There are all sorts of quotes about the “right thing” being hard.

Right now I don’t feel like I have the inner resolve I need to be ok with my choice. I know it was the right one to make; more for myself than anything. Stealing is wrong. I couldn’t not say something regardless of what the item was and be ok with myself.

But actions of reactions. The reaction to my action of informing is that I have made my coworker’s life harder and she, in turn, is going to be resentful and potentially take it out on me by fostering a negative work environment while we’re together.

That is the consequence of the choice I made.

So I guess that’s where my issue comes in; where my resolve falters. This is where the confusion is and so maybe I don’t have the words I want or need to express it right.

Why am I worried about how she’s going to act? She can act however she wants. Am I going to let her attitude change wanting to be at MY clinic? Am I going to let her mess with my own attitude? Am I going to give her power over my emotions? Does she deserve that power?

No. No one does. My emotions are my own. I may not control them, but I exist with them, alongside them, and if I take the time to understand them, sometimes I can persuade them to change and to see another perspective.

I remained true to myself and to my own standards which happen to be in line with the company’s core values and our code of conduct.

I DID do the right thing.

Sometimes the right thing and the hard thing are the same thing.

I don’t know, mom. I don’t think I really figured anything out, but I don’t feel as anxious anymore. I’m not as worried about Monday. I’m not as worried about her life or how I may or may not have messed it up.

Stealing is wrong. It doesn’t matter that it was gloves. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t a whole box of gloves. Either you’re allowed to take them or you’re not. There isn’t a gray area. There aren’t situational exceptions here. That’s one of the positive things about policies and procedures. They remove the gray, nebulous, opinion-based judgement calls. They make things black and white, for better or for worse. They give us something to use as a standard for ethical and professional behavior.

I know I did the right thing, mom. Now to fight the good fight; the one in my head. I’m not going to back down from my choice to inform. If I did the morally right thing then I have nothing to be ashamed of or regret.

Letters to Mom 026: Graduation Day

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Today has been a day full of events, mom.

I graduated from my leadership class today. One day after the three year five month mark of your death. I know the halfway mark is coming up. It’s eating at me, building inside me. I know I’m letting it but I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to not think about it or be aware of it.

I know on the outside graduating from this class might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but it signifies the end of an obligation I agreed to. I finished something. I stuck it out to the end. That hurts. Completion hurts. People were/are happy for me. My FA gave me a hand made gift with my personal credo on it. I got an amazing sweater. There was a plaque created with all sorts of words used to describe me from my fellow classmates.

I found out that I’m going to be writing an article about my journey with the company so far; an article which will be published in the Tech Talk newsletter which gets sent to EVERY PCT in the company. A few thousand people are going to be reading about me in my middle of nowhere clinic.

I hurt right now, mom. I miss you. I talked about you in my “About Me” presentation that I had to do for this final class. I’ve been having anxiety over it for months, since the first class where we found out about this ending presentation. I knew I had to talk about you. Your death has been such a catalyst for everything in my life since that event. I couldn’t NOT talk about you.

I told my class at the beginning of my presentation that life is often much like a heartbeat. There are ups and then there are downs and that my presentation was going to have a really big down, but that it would get positive again and that I needed them to stay with me through the hard section because in the end, it did get better.

I told them about my most senior hobby, cross-stitching, and how you and mama taught me how to do it and that realistically I have been stabbing things for 20+ years. I told them about Jason and Jon and the relationship I have with them. I told them about you. About how you were an RN. About how you got sick and didn’t get better and how I felt so lost after your death. I told them about how I started seeing a therapist because I knew I wasn’t equipped to handle everything that was going on in my life.

I talked about how I eventually found what I wanted my purpose to be; helping others and how DaVita was the first company to give me that chance. I talked about how in a mere two and a half years I’ve grown from absolutely no experience to being a PCT2 expert cannulator, the VAM for my clinic, a DSS graduate, PCT Advisory Committee member, and a future preceptor who is attending nursing school with a tentative goal of becoming a clinical coordinator.

I’ve come a really long way, mom. I know you’re proud of me. Thank you, for everything. For loving me. For listening to me. For supporting me. For believing in me.

I’m trying to believe in myself. I’m trying to be patient with myself. Understanding. Empathetic.

I’m allowed to feel sad when I accomplish things. I’m allowed to let sadness have its time; its moment. It’s allowed to be part of the journey and process.

I’ll try to be better tomorrow, but I don’t think I’ll really start feeling better until the weekend. Tomorrow I work. I have to be around people. This weekend I don’t have to. I can be alone and sad and work through all of these emotions that I haven’t really been able to because I keep myself too busy with Life.

I love you, mom. I just wanted you to know that, and to know that I did another thing. I took another step forward and I’m glad I did even though right now it hurts. I’ll talk to you again soon. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to do it without tears.

Letters to Mom 025: Remembering to Love

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Hey mom,

I should have known tonight would be a sleepless night. It’s midnight. I have class, my first one of the LPN program, at 8 AM, which means I need to be leaving here around 6:30 AM which means I should be waking up around 5 AM to make sure I’m showered and packed and ready to go.

That means if I fall asleep right now, this instant, that I would get five hours of sleep. It’s not going to happen. I would rather write to you instead.

A lot has happened in a short amount of time.

I worked a billion hours the past two months or so. I’m glad that stint of my life is over. I took a vacation to see Jon. It was nice. I saw Mother Earth and Sir while I was there. We played a new game called Red Flags. I think you would have liked it.

Jon and I talked a lot while I was there. We talked about you. We talked about the fights we had at the hospital while you were there. We talked about our grief and how each of us feels about it. He’s worried that I’m stagnating and not “moving on”. He thinks that because I talked about how your birthday still hurts me. How significant events, important days, still deeply hurt and make me cry.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe I should be “better” or whatever, but I’m not and I’m ok with that. I want your birthday to hurt. I want it to mean something to me. I want all of those days that are connected to you to still mean something because otherwise, it will feel like I’m losing the last bit of you that I still have.

I got sick while I was on vacation. To the point where Sunday morning, after flying back to Nebraska, I was coughing so hard so frequently that I started coughing up trace amounts of blood. I went to an urgent care facility but they wouldn’t see me when I described what was going on. They said that I needed to go to the ER. So I did. Ox drove me. He stayed with me the whole time. I had to have chest x-rays done. I had to have labs drawn. They gave me two breathing treatments while we waited on results because my lungs sounded so awful.

In the end, they diagnosed me with bronchitis and sent me home with an inhaler and steroids to take for five days. I sent a message to work to let them know I wouldn’t be able to cover my shift Monday due to what was going on. I don’t feel bad about it. In a year and a half I’ve called in once and I was literally in the ER.

The online portion of classes unlocked today. Since I stayed home from work I did a bunch of that stuff. It kept me busy while Ox was at work. We met in Lincoln for lunch. I tried a new soup at the Chinese place we like on Sunday after the ER visit. We had time to kill before my prescriptions were filled and I needed to try to eat something since I’ve been eating relatively poorly since Thursday. Something about my body trying its damnedest to kill me just ruins my appetite. Much lame.

Anyway, they had a seafood soup that sounded interesting. I tried it and really liked it. So much so that I asked to go there again today so I could have it for lunch. I only ate half, but that meant I had a snack later. It’s definitely a nice change of pace from the chicken broth and grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve been eating. Ox does make some pretty amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, though. Definitely not slumming it.

While we were in town, Ox and I went to Barns and Noble to look at Dungeons and Dragons books. That’s something that Jon and I did while I was in Florida. We played D&D a couple of times and it was so much fun. Ox and I looked into groups here around Lincoln and found one that meets Wednesday nights. We need to have our own books and dice, so that’s what we did today. We went and got the books we needed and the dice so we can play in a couple of days.

We’ll be able to game together, outside of the house, away from electronics. Maybe we’ll even make friends outside of work.

I don’t know why but I’m super looking forward to it even though I have yet to transfer my character information from Jon’s account to my own. There’s a website where you can keep track of your character information digitally. It’s pretty awesome and I know none of that really makes much sense to you, but I know if we were talking in person you would be smiling at my enthusiasm and happy simply for the fact that I’m happy and excited and looking forward to something.

And I guess that’s where things get weird and painful. I’m looking forward to things and it hurts. I’m kind of excited about my class and that hurts, too. I wrote posts for discussion boards and you weren’t here to proofread them. I’m having to explain all over again why I’m entering the medical field. I’m having to explain the situation we went through and how it affected me and why I feel so deeply about helping people.

I was laying next to Ox before I decided to get up and write. I was thinking about how he’s been so supportive of me over the last year and a half; how he’s been so supportive and kind while I’ve been sick. I remembered some of the conversations I’ve had with him. The ones where I said I felt like I didn’t love him the way he deserved to be loved and that I felt broken and didn’t know if I would ever be able to love the way I used to.

I do love him, mom. I wish you could meet him. I wish he could meet you. I know you want me to be happy. I remember one time, you and I were talking about pets. I think it was about Bonnie, our first cat. She was older than I was when she died. Eighteen years old. I was young. Hardly a teenager, if that.

You said something about getting another pet eventually and I didn’t understand. How could you get another cat? How could you replace Bonnie?

You explained that you weren’t replacing her. You had loved Bonnie as much as you could while she was alive. How could you deny another animal the same love and compassion simply because you hurt? How was it right to withhold something from someone else for something they had nothing to do with?

I know we were talking about pets, animals, and to some people that logic wouldn’t apply to humans, but I think I understand what you were saying back then. What you were really saying.

It’s not right of me to not love as deeply, as intensely, as passionately as I used to just because you died. I know it sucks. I know it hurts. Holy fuck, do I know how much it hurts and aches and tries to tear me apart still. I know how much I hate it and how I wish I could change it and have you still physically be a part of my life.

But at the same time, it’s not fair of me to deny Ox the level and depth of love and connection he deserves to have. The level and depth that I am able to give if only I would allow myself to give it. To accept that yes, one day one of us will die, and that will suck, horrifically suck, but that doesn’t make it right for me to not love in the now. To give that for as long as I can while we are together.

I think that’s what you would want me to do. To allow myself to love, fully, and to not deny the people in my life that simply because I hurt, or am worried about future hurt.

These are pretty heavy thoughts to be having seven hours before my first class, but there you go. Sometimes that’s just how life works I guess.

I miss you, mom. I miss you a lot. I think I’m going to try loving. Actually loving. Fully loving. Ox deserves that. The relationship I have with him deserves that. And I think, deep down, somewhere inside me, you deserve that. You raised me to be stronger than internal and emotional pain. You raised me to overcome things like this. To work through them and function past them. To learn from them.

I think I’m learning. It’s taking a while, and god does it fucking hurt, mom, but I think I’m getting there. One painful remembered lesson at a time.

I love you, forever and for always. Thanks for being my mom and for still being with me.

Musing Moments 136: Mother’s Day Reflection

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I’ve been sick lately. This is the first time in about three weeks where I’ve had an extended amount of time off work to try to recover. The weather is finally turning warmer. The sun is out…

It’s been… nice… I’ve been able to sit on the front porch and stare out at green fields and blue skies and not feel this overwhelming crush to accomplish things. I don’t have demands on my time other than to rest and get better.

As I was sitting this morning / early afternoon, these words came to me. I don’t know why. I’m not really one for poetry, but that apparently doesn’t seem to matter to the Universe.

So here is my Mother’s Day Reflection, preserved in text for later years when maybe I’ll need to reread them.


It’s a few days past, I hope that’s ok.
Better late than never, the words you would say.


Sickness has come, slowly it goes.
Coughing out my lungs, maybe a part of my soul.


In these few days of silence, I’ve heard in my head,
All of the words I wish I had said.


So, yes slightly late and long overdue,
but here are my words this Mother’s Day to you.


Bright daylight sun and dark nighttime moon,
all universal truths are different without you.


Through green summer grass and white winter snow,
regardless of the time, my love for you grows.


Your presence is felt and yet physically missed.
It’s the strength you gave me that gets me through this.


This absence and longing; the horrific alone.
I know that you’re with me, even if you no longer answer the phone.


The promises I made after your last dying breath…
I’ve done my best to keep even in my deepest depths.


Food and showers, it’s a struggle to go on,
It’s been more than hard, mom, now that you’re gone.


Small steps towards accomplishment bringing pain so severe…
What’s the point in any of it when you’re no longer here?


Those words still cut at me while I cry myself to sleep,
but I made those promises and my promises I will keep.


So please know from here to where you are,
that Death can go fuck itself because it doesn’t matter how far.


The love which was given, the lessons you taught,
The person I am is a gift that can never be bought.


Through all of these words, I know one thing is true,
Forever and always a daughter I will be to you.


I love you mom. Happy Mother’s day.

Letters to Mom 024: Your Mother’s Day Card Sent to You with Love

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Hey mom,

It’s mother’s day.

I think this day is hard for you, too. I don’t have proof of this. Nothing rational or logical. It’s just a random thought I had earlier today; a feeling deep in my chest where the ache of your death lives. I think you miss being here just as much as we all miss having you here.

Today has been a day. It’s been painful and heavy. It’s been overcast and cold and wet and dreary. It has been for a while. It makes me think that summer will never come.

I don’t know what else to really say. I miss you. I hope you’re having a good day where ever you are. I hope you know I’m thinking about you. I hope you know I love you and that if you were still here I would have called by now. I would have sent you flowers or a card or something; most likely a cross-stitch with hearts and a sappy message about how much I love you because I never felt like I could say that phrase enough.

Since I can’t send anything to you here on Earth, this is my mother’s day card for you. I hope it finds you. I hope you read it and that it let’s you know how much you still mean to me.

You are the best mom ever. EVAR! You’re my own personal super mom and I’m the luckiest kid, aside from Jason and Jon, to be able to say you’re mine.

Happy mother’s day, mom. Thank you, so much, for being my mom and for all the things you did for me while you were alive and for all the things you continue to do for me after your death.

I love you, great big bunches, forever and for always.

~ Your earth dragon who could, who did, and who still is

Letters to Mom 023: I Passed

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Hey mom,

I passed my first test for Human Anatomy. I passed with a 95. Pretty awesome, huh? I bet you’re doing the I told you so dance. I bet you rolled your eyes every time I said, “I’m going to fail this class.”

It hurts. Passing my test sucks. I’m doing well and I want you to be here and you’re not. You’re still dead and I’m still not used to it and I still want things to be the way they were.

I think I’m getting better, though. I’m dealing with the hurt better this time. I’m writing to you sooner. I’m remembering that I can still talk to you even if it is sort of a one-sided conversation.

The hurt isn’t as paralyzing as it has been in the past. I don’t think that it hurts less. I think it’s more that I know what it feels like and so I’m able to function through it better. It’s still going to suck going to work tomorrow and having all of my patients ask me how I did and telling them and knowing that it isn’t you. I can’t have you sitting across from me or going to Moe’s to celebrate with me. And goddammit, I get so frustrated with myself for focusing on what I don’t have anymore.

I love you, mom. I miss you. I’m doing well and I’m trying really hard. I think I’m doing trying for today, though. I think I’m going to go curl up in bed after calling Ox and be sad for a little while.

I know it’s been three years, but hopefully, it’s still ok for me to have sad days and to feel sad over silly things like passing tests.

Thanks for listening to me. And thanks for all of the studying tips and tricks that you taught me growing up. I wouldn’t have passed this first test without them.

I love you, forever and for always.

Letters to Mom 022: Three Years Later

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Hey mom,

It’s year three since you died. I still ache. I still hurt. I still miss you. Today started rough. Jon and I have talked twice already. It started out on the cold side and icky and overcast since it’s been raining so much.

Honestly, today started out kind of shitty. But it didn’t stay that way.

Ox got off work and called me. We talked for a little bit. We agreed to go into town for lunch. He drove home and picked me up so we could go in together. That gave me time to shower since I hadn’t done that yet.

The only things I had accomplished with my day before his phone call was waking up only to go back to sleep and eating breakfast bars. I didn’t have much to show for myself and it didn’t feel like I would for the rest of the day. Breathing, sitting, being made my body ache with effort much less actually doing any of the things I thought about.

I did get up and shower though. I started a load of laundry. I put my clothes away. As Ox and I were driving into town to get Chinese I looked up a recipe since Ox had mentioned he really enjoyed the smoked sausage in the jambalaya I made the other night. That led to making a shopping list and going to the grocery store before coming home.

I have a meal I’m looking forward to making for everyone. I switched the laundry and started another load. I’ve washed the spinach so it’s ready to use tonight. I plan to cross stitch in a bit and relax until making supper. I’m taking today off from school work since I’ve been doing really well in that regard so far.

I’ve started taking my nursing classes. Right now I’m doing Human Anatomy. I had a minor freak out Tuesday, wondering if I was doing the right thing and how I was going to retain all of the information, but I’m doing really well. I’m surprised at how much I already know and how easily the rest of the pieces are sticking in my brain.

I think you would be proud of me. I’ve figured out college all on my own this time. I’m moving forward with my life. I don’t know if it’s the right direction. I don’t know where I’ll end up since I don’t really have an end goal, but I still think that you would be happy that I’m doing something with my self, for myself.

It makes me wish we could have conversations. You took all of these classes already. Jon’s taken them already. I would be able to… I don’t know what… be part of that world with you. We’re all in the medical field now, but you’re not here so we can’t talk about it. It sort of sucks. It’s like I figured it out too late or something. I know that’s not true, but there’s a part of me that feels like I missed out on something I’ll never be able to get back. There was an aspect of your life you couldn’t share with me because I wasn’t there yet.

Being back in school is hard, emotionally. I think I’ll be fine with the classes themselves. I’ve figured out how best to study for the one I’m in. But just like with everything else, steps forward are hard. They’re heavy and this step is no different but I think I’m coping better.

I have another flower for you. Another rose to mark what this day means for us. I’m sorry you’re not here. I’m sorry it still hurts. I’m sorry I’m still sad and that I still miss you. I’m sorry I don’t write or talk to you as often as I feel like I should. I know you’re still with me though. I still see you in my dreams sometimes and I can still feel your arms around me, hugging me when it feels like I’m alone and that giving up would be easier than struggling.

Thank you for being with me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my friend and my mentor. Thank you for being my mother.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

Letters to Mom 021: Please Be There

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Hey mom,

It’s the 11th. Only nine days until my birthday. Only nine days until the day I became your daughter.

Only eight days until whatever birthday celebration happens at my clinic since my FA found out the 20th is my birthday and we’re closed that day.

Only eight days until the bombardment of “happy birthday!” starts.

I’m sorry, but I still don’t want it to be my birthday. I don’t want to go to class tonight and take my test and pass. I don’t want to not be able to call you. I don’t want to go through another birthday where I don’t hear your voice. And I’m sorry that these wants infect the rest of my day.

I’m sorry I came home last night after a mildly good day at work and wanted to give up. A patient infiltrated his arm trying to cover his cough. The acid I was mixing for the clinic was testing really low for its temperature so I had to call Biomed. When I was leaving the clinic I couldn’t get the front door to lock properly and had to call my boss.

None of those things were earthshattering. None of them really affected the day. All of them got figured out. But after coming home and cooking dinner, I was done. I didn’t want to do anything else. I wanted to give up on the day and have it be over, so that’s what I did. I went to bed. I didn’t wake up any better and I don’t have a legitimate reason for feeling this way, at least it doesn’t feel like it.

There wasn’t some recent awful event to justify what I guess is depression.

I’ve been back home for over a week so I can’t say that it’s stress from the trip anymore. At least I don’t think I can. I made it through Thanksgiving, so I can’t say it’s that…

There’s not something I can point to and say, “This. This right here. This is why I’m sad and depressed and apathetic. This is why nothing matters right now. This is why I hurt. This is why I’m tired.” I don’t have a reason and so I’m struggling right now, mom.

I’m sad and I don’t have a reason for it. I hurt. I’m tired, of everything and nothing is really making me feel better or helping me cope.

I guess I need to let you know that I miss you. Still. Always. I guess I need to let you know that I haven’t cried in a while because I don’t give myself a chance to. I instead pick up over time and take classes and go on work trips. I keep myself busy to the point where I get to here and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I liked my trip. I wanted to take this class. I’m happy to help the other clinics out.

I still miss you and underneath all of my busy-ness, I’m still hurting. I’m still wounded and not really all that ok. More ok than I was but not ok enough to not dread the 19th or the 20th. I’m going to have to force smiles onto my face over and over again as my heart contracts, knowing that I can’t explain why those words hurt so deeply because it’s no one’s intention to hurt me but that doesn’t change the fact that they will, that they do.

I wish I could hear you wish me luck on my test. I wish it was you telling me that I will do fine instead of Jon. I wish it was you I was brainstorming ideas with for my leadership essay.

I wish so many things and it all just sort of sucks today, for no reason other than I had today off and finally had a chance to realize that some things still just suck because they suck. It’s no one’s fault. Some facts are just sort of lame like that.

I wish we could talk. I wish I could know how you’re doing. I wish you could tell me about your day. I wish I knew you were ok and that death isn’t all that bad. That once you’re dead there’s this other side, whatever it is, and that it’s different but there are positive things about it. Sort of like taking a new job. “I miss my old team and there’s this one annoying chick in human resources, but everyone is super nice and friendly, and the company has a good benefits package. The commute to work is pretty nice and I’m working on this nifty project,” type of a thing.

I wish I knew if you missed being alive. I wish I had known to ask more questions. I wished I had known to listen to your stories more.

I wish I was better at grieving and being depressed rather than letting it eat away at my days like it does. I wish I had had it in me to make myself go to the gym today. I wish I had it in me to care about how many carbs I eat. I wish I had it in me to actually stop smoking like I keep thinking about. But I don’t think I can right now, mom, and I don’t think I need to be sorry over that. I don’t feel sorry and part of me wonders if that’s from the grief/depression/whateverthisis. Being sorry means you feel something, and right now I mostly don’t.

I feel mostly frustration with myself for feeling this way, but that’s about it. The only emotion I really feel is in response to my lack of feeling anything… Oh, and more frustration because it’s frustrating to feel frustrated. Gah. Talk about a vicious cycle of lameness. : /

I feel bad for not having more to talk about but I can’t really think much past the words, “I miss you.” My mind just kind of gets stuck there. I miss you. I wish you were here. I wish we could talk. I wish I could give you a hug. I feel like it’s the same things I always write when I write to you. It’s like maybe I’m stuck or stagnating in my grief. I’ll be fine until I’m not and then all of a sudden I feel like I’m regressing or not doing well enough. Things I’m normally fine with will bother me or be amplified.

I’m going to go to class today, mom. Mostly because I have to, but I wanted you to know that even though today sort of sucks for no reason that I’m still going to go. I’m not going to fail my class even though I can’t call you and tell you I passed. I’m not going to not take my state skills test just because we can’t celebrate together. I’m sorry all of these stupid, small, silly things are so hard sometimes, mom. I’m sorry. I know you don’t want me to be but I have to say those stupid words so they can hopefully stop eating away at the inside of my brain. I’m sorry and I’m sorry I’m sorry.

Please help me get through this. Please tell me that you’re still here and that everything will be ok. Please tell me I’ll do fine on my test and that I worry too much. Please tell me tomorrow will be better and worth it. I know most of those are unfair of me to ask, but right now I really just want to be an eight-year-old kid and cry and have you tell me that everything will be ok. The monsters aren’t really real. The bad things will go away and can’t hurt me.

But these monsters are real and no matter how much I wish them away the 20th will still come without your voice. Another year will pass. Another scar to mark my survival. I’m just so… tired, mom. I’m tired. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of being sad.

I wouldn’t change anything, though. I don’t want to miss you less. I’m not tired of missing you, of loving you, of caring that you died and that you meant something to me; that you still mean something to me. So I guess I really don’t know what I’m tired of because I feel like saying I’m tired of hurting means I’m tired of loving you and that’s not true. It will never be true. I will always love you and it will always be worth the pain I feel.

I don’t know, mom. I really don’t know right now but I’m sort of glad I wrote. I’m glad I had that realization; that if given the choice I wouldn’t want to hurt less because that would compromise or diminish my love for you and the Universe can go fuck itself if it thinks I’m going to let that happen. I would fight to keep my pain. To the bitter end.

I really wish I wasn’t so confusing sometimes. I wish things were easy and straightforward. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t an INFJ full of contradictions but then I wouldn’t be me and I sort of like me most of the time.

Thanks for listening to me ramble, mom. I think it helped a little. I need to shower for class. Please wish me luck. Please be there when I pass. Please let me feel you so I don’t feel alone. I know that’s not fair to ask but please don’t let me feel alone tonight. I really don’t want to be alone right now, mom. I really just want to feel like you’re still with me and that even though it’s different now that it’s still ok. That we’re still ok. That we still love each other and that we’ll figure it out somehow.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always I will love you.