Monday, June 23, 2008


today i donated over 25 pairs of my mom's prescription eye glasses to pearl vision, who will send them on to the lions club. the lions club then distributes the glasses around the world on "optical missions." the woman at pearl vision looked at me a bit strangely when i handed her the large bag. mom had eye glasses, and prescription sun glasses, stashed all around the house. i imagine what happened is that when she got a new prescription, she put the old glasses in the back of a drawer, and there they remained until we started cleaning out her house.

m, my brother, his wife and i have been cleaning out mom's house since she died. it has been at times harrowing, heart breaking, funny, boring, exhausting, frustrating, sweet...pieces of mom's whole life were in that house. her mother's keepsakes were also in the house so i felt as i was pawing through things that i was looking through generations of things not just mom's things.

we are nearing the end. we are hoping to have the house cleaned out by the end of the next weekend we are there. i have ordered a dumpster. as i have mentioned in earlier posts, my mother, god bless her, was a pack rat. she went back and forth from defending herself ("this is how i like things, having my things all around me makes me happy, i need visual stimulation, etc.") to feeling shame about it ("i'm a horrible housekeeper."). when we first started cleaning out the house, we had multiple piles: Keep, Trash, Glass Recycle, Plastic Recycle, Aluminum Recycle, Paper Recycle, Donate, etc. the last time we were there i just walked around the house with a trash bag. i talked to her as i was throwing things away - i felt this was necessary because otherwise i imagined her rolling over in her grave!

i am going to miss her house - it is the last place that i can feel her presence in. she liked things just so, and it is sad to leave the place she made home. i am hoping that filling my new home with her things will allow me to feel her spirit as i make my own nest.

Monday, June 2, 2008

deep connection

this weekend i went to my 10-year college reunion.
surprisingly, i really enjoyed myself.

i find, these days, that i can't- or maybe won't - put up a front.
when i'm feeling sad, or angry, or frustrated, or exhausted, you'll know about it.
i have less patience than usual and less ability to fake it.
when i'm tired, i'll cry at the drop of a hat.

so here i go, off to see people i haven't seen in 10 years and some other people
i've kept in touch with only off and on.

and they all ask me, "how are you? what's been going on?"
and what i want to say is, "well, my mom died. she died in february. she was
diagnosed with cancer in august and she was dead 6 months later. it's been a horrible year and
i can't believe i survived it but i think since i did that i must have this well of strength
somewhere that i'm choosing to believe will continue to carry me through as i try to heal
from this horrible thing that happened. how are you?"
but instead i settle for, "well, it's been a rough year but overall i'm doing great."

and suprisingly, i am able to tell people who want more than the typical reunion soundbite what happened. and i connect, with close friends and acquaintances alike, about loss. they tell me about the premature death of their mother. about a stillborn baby. i hear about other parents with cancer diagnoses. and it feels like maybe this is life.

and it feels so good to connect with other people who have experienced these terrible losses and survived. it gives me some hope. and it 's comforting that they get it. they get the exhaustion, the insanity, the depression that are a part of this thing called grief. they get dark humor. they joke about the stupid things that people say to people who are grieving. they get that these stupid things are better than silence. they get shock, and denial, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. they get incredible feats of strength at surprising times. how did we do all that the week after she died? and they get that all we have is each other. and so we have long, intimate conversations while those around us are doing the location-and-job-and-repeat game.