Some people might think I've made a mistake by posting this. I might be one of them. On the other hand, I wrote it, and though it's taking a while to click "Publish," I know that once I do, I'll probably be glad it's out there and done.
The other day, I heard a sad story on the radio during my drive home. I'm smart: usually I change the station when the sad stories come on, and this was so obviously going to be one of those right from the start that I don't know what was wrong with me, because I let myself listen.
The story was about a woman who has metastatic cancer. She got her diagnosis 15 years ago, and since then, has had recurring treatments and appointments every six months. Her cancer will recede, and then it will come back. 15 years of chemo and whatever - it is taking a toll on her, as you might imagine. She's 71 now and you could tell she's depressed (she also says straight out: "I'm depressed," which I thought was brave), but still smart and funny. Her naturally vibrant personality was obvious, but her kids and her husband see the change in her.
But she's here.
I heard it fairly late in my commute. It made me cry a little, but I knew I had to stop by the time I got home. Patrick was cooking dinner when I walked in the door, and I told him I'd "heard a sad story" on the radio. He was busy, and he said, "I never listen to sad stories." I heard Jules playing in the living room, and I didn't know what else to say, so I went to our bedroom to change clothes and then hung out and played with Jules. The rest of the night was normal.
The next morning when I was back in the car was not.
Somewhere between the 605 freeway and my office (that's about 15-20 minutes of driving, depending on traffic), I lost it. I'm not sure what the trigger was. Oh: yes I do. It was that Jason Isbell song "Elephant." (There is something about his voice that always makes me emotional anyway. It's so beautiful and sad. It's hard to imagine how he wrote it, or if he really lived that story. I follow him on Twitter and he's obviously more than his beautiful sad voice: the guy is smart, and funny, too.) Anyway, I finally arrived at work and I sat there for a long time in the parking lot, crying.
I miss my mom so much, and some days are harder than others. These moments seem to be happening a bit more frequently. I don't remember what all the stages of grief are (a hundred years ago, I read that Kubler-Ross book at the register while working in some bookstore, for no good reason), but sometimes I worry that I'm getting worse. It seems to me that's not how it's supposed to work. I mean, I do have totally normal days and nights - lots of them. I have days like this, too. I don't really know what normal is, as far as this stuff goes, so it would probably be best to try to stop worrying about it and just accept that this is the way I'm going to be for a while. It's only been 8 months, and maybe my expectations of what this is "supposed" to feel like are unrealistic. I heard someone say that you never get over the loss of a parent - hearing that was hard. Never. You never get over it? I don't want to think about it that way.
(I don't want to get over it. I just want it to stop feeling like I've been run over by a truck.)
It isn't just music that starts this feeling, either. I was watching that show "A Chef's Life" on PBS, and there's something about Vivian Howard's mother that reminds me of my own. Something about the way she handed her daughter - a successful chef with her own restaurant and television show - a hairbrush, on camera, that reminded me of my mother. Vivian's comment, "Oh, so you think my hair is messy?" or something like that, was so much gentler than how I would have responded, but it was still very familiar. My mother was commenting on my hair until she stopped commenting on anything. I had to stop watching. It's the same with those old episodes of Martha Stewart's original cooking show when she had her mother on. These women had the type of mom I recognize and respect, and miss.
I've considered not posting this many times. It's been a draft for almost a full week. I don't want anyone to worry about me; I don't want to post things that are so obviously personal and emotional because maybe I should keep those things private. Maybe I should be more self-protective with this stuff. But protected from what? I guess I'll find out.
I texted a friend while I was sitting there in my car that day. It was basically the skeleton of this whole story (sometimes my texts, which by necessity are shorter and simpler than these posts, are just better writing. For one thing, they contain fewer parentheses), and even though there was no response right away, after I sent the texts I felt ready to go upstairs. For instance, I was able to joke about inexplicably not having any Kleenex in the car (I said, "And I don't have any goddamn Kleenex."); I kind of knew I was going to be okay at that moment. I wiped my eyes with my hand, maybe a little bit on my sleeve, and I got out of the car. Later, my friend told me I was "strong" to do that. I don't think so. I think I was just surviving it in the simplest way I could. A little dramatic, but short-lived just then. Until the next time, I guess.