Tag Archives: death

Grief

Standard

The Loud One woke up cranky and lethargic, with a fever. Happy Dude was not so happy when two poop explosions (editor’s note: we’re now up to four) left him with a terrible diaper rash. And the Nibbit… well, he’s just been a little bit extra nibbity all day long. I forgot it was Beach Day at school, spilled rodent food all over the floor and then stubbed my toe trying to clean it up.

Yup, today sucks. But it’s April 11th so it all makes sense.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death.

Side note: If right now you’re saying, “Oh geez, not another post about her mom,” I say to you the following, in the nicest way: I warned you in the last post this one was coming. If you’re looking for parenting foibles, don’t you worry, I’ll be back with plenty of those really soon.

I completely GET IT if you can’t do negativity today… maybe today is your birthday or maybe you’re just feeling so happy that it’s getting warmer or maybe it’s the anniversary of your first Starbucks drink – what? You don’t celebrate that?  If that’s the case, I do not want to bring you down. Signoff and come back in ten days. I promise I’ll be back with a fun kids-really-know-how-to-screw-up-a-vacation post.

But for me, it’s a shitty day. It’s a symbolic shitty day, but for some reason, the symbolism somehow always manifests itself in fevers and poop explosions and stubbed toes. And I can’t speak for everyone that has lost a loved one, but talking about my Mom and grief – and even more so, writing about it – makes today slightly less shitty. (Not to mention that I know she loves the attention…)

I have debated whether or not this blog – a place mostly intended to make light of parenting difficulties and my massive flaws in managing them – is a place for it (grief, drama, sappiness, sadness) and then I have decided that yes, yes it is. Because it’s alllll connected….

OK, on that existential note, let’s move on.

Grief is tricky.

It’s true that time heals. After a loss, every moment of every day is painful. That gets better. You start having more OK moments than not-OK moments. Then, some happy ones creep in. You start laughing more and the shock waves of sadness come less often. Not never – it won’t ever be never – but less often. (I was channeling Taylor Swift there for a minute.)

BUT (and here’s where I get REALLY Debbie Downer)…

There is one way in which the feeling of loss gets worse, deeper. At least in my case, it’s the fact that as time passes and the years go by, the amount of life I have lived without my Mom has increased, so I experience more and more important life moments, and therefore create more memories, without her. That is very, very sad. Therefore, my grief is worse. (Wow, that was kind of like math.)

In the ten years since my Mom died, a LOT of life-changing shit has happened to me.

I re-met KJ (in fact, it was my Mom’s funeral that brought us back together… I like to think of it as her final act in my life… but that’s a different post), planned a wedding, got married, had a baby, moved to the suburbs and had two more babies and I simply cannot believe I’ve done all of that without her.

I’ve lived an entire grown-up lifetime without her.

None of this is new… I wrote about all of it right here. I wrote about how hard it is to be a mother, without a mother. And that will never change.

Because that’s how grief works. You’re mostly fine until it sneaks up on you out of the blue one day and knocks you down.

The other day, Happy Dude was hacking up a lung and I wanted to give him cough medicine, but it was labeled, “Age 4 and under: do not give.” I debated whether he was too young… yet, he weighs as much as some four-year olds, so it must be fine. Right? There are a lot of people I could have called to ask for advice – my sister, friends, his pediatrician – but I wanted my Mom. She’s not here. So I cried.

I know I do not have to detail all of the events that make me miss my Mom. Because so many of you are living through them as well. If you’re lucky enough to have your Mom with you, than you get it. And if you’re not, than you get it more. (And if that’s the case, I hope you’ll join me for Margaritas on Mother’s Day.)

I felt it after I had each of my kids. I had the normal “baby blues” to a certain extent – but it was coupled with a feeling of complete homesickness that I know came from missing her.

And there it is. Today, I am homesick for my Mom.

A few days ago, on her birthday, we had a toast to DiDi at dinner. I heard some of the same questions I’ve heard before from the kids… is DiDi in heaven? (Yes.) Do you wish you could see her? (Very much so.) I missed her, but I laughed at my kids talking about their visions of heaven. I wished she was there to see them, to meet them, but I didn’t cry.

Most days are easier. Some days are hard.

Some moments are impossible.

Grief is tricky.

Mom1

The One About Death… woohoo!

Standard

Everyday I try to write a blog post. Everyday I jot down notes about various topics like discipline or about patience or about how Amanda Bines and Lindsey Lohan will probably NOT become best friends.

Most days, these notes don’t amount to anything. I file them away in a folder called “In Process” and usually don’t look at them again until many weeks later. At that point, I almost always delete them because the writing is terrible or because I realize that most people don’t know or care who the hell Amanda Bines is.

I also have several posts “In progress” that are truly in progress. Posts that I want to finish, but just haven’t. For instance, I’ve been writing a post called Cousins: The Unsung Heroes of Families for about three months. (Cousins are a big deal in our house… I love my cousins, the kids love their cousins… and I’m writing a tribute. But I just haven’t been able to find the right way to make that interesting to anyone other than me… and probably my cousins).

Then, every once in a while, a topic just slams into me. (Weird description, I know. But that’s kind of what it feels like.) It starts with an event (like Mother’s Day) or a [I hope] funny idea (like, “Hey, I should describe A Day in the Life!”) and I just write and write and barely read it over and then I hit publish while the post is still full of typos and run-on sentences.

This is one of those posts. And it’s about death. (I know what you’re thinking… awesome.)

KJ’s grandfather passed away last night. He was an incredible man who lived to be 97 and at one point, he was the oldest, living, active Merchant Marine on record. He told cool stories about transporting bombs without knowing it and confronting pirates. Real pirates. He was seriously BAD ASS. He – and his amazing smile – will be missed dearly by his family and friends.

Gramps giving KJ a tour of his home away from home… a submarine.

I just told The Loud One that Great-Grandpa died and after clarifying the familial ties, she said happily, “I bet Grandpa was really happy to see his Daddy. I bet he was yelling, ‘Hey father! I’m over here!’ Maybe they’re going to celebrate in heaven by bowling with the angels. Or maybe they’ll ask the angels to make a special heaven cake.”

I LOVE that her first thought was a happy one… that her Grandpa must have been happy to see his father. Because really? That’s my comfort as well. That the people I love are partying it up in heaven with some delicious food and a nice Chardonnay – together. And that they’ll be there when I get there.

 

Talking to kids about death is so… tricky. They have questions, but we don’t always have the answers. Kids are so literal, while so much about death is unknown and vague.

Yet, these conversations are so important. Now that the Loud One is six, I am always acutely aware of the fact that yikes, she may actually remember this.

 

I documented the following on December 2, 2010, about a month after KJ’s father passed away.

Background info: My kids know all about my Mom, despite never meeting her. They point to her picture and say, “That’s your Mom. That’s DiDi. She’s in heaven.” And I’ve told the Loud One that my Mom used to say to me, “Oh Kris, you make me laugh” and that it would make me feel so glad.

The Loud One said something funny in the car earlier today and I said, “Oh LO, you make me laugh,” and then we had this conversation:

LO: That’s what your Mommy used to say to you! Is your Mommy DiDi?
Me: Yup
LO: And she’s in heaven with Grandpa?
Me: That’s right.
LO: Do you wish you could visit her?
Me: I would love to see her again, but you can’t visit someone in heaven.
LO: Well, you can go there, but just once… when you’re much, much, much, much older. And you’ll be happy to see her, right?
Me: That’s right… and yes, I’ll be very happy to see her.
LO: Do you PROMISE that there’s only one heaven? So we’ll all be there together someday?
Me: [gulp] Yes.
LO: But how do you know?
Me: Weeellllll, that’s just something I believe. When you believe in something that you can’t see or touch or hear, it’s called “having faith” in something. And I just have faith that there’s a heaven.
LO: [pause] Can I have ice cream today?

 

I mean, this killed me. The “Well, you can go there, but just once…” ?? Come on.

I remember feeling relief after this conversation ended. I was happy when she abruptly busted out the ice cream request. I can handle ice cream. Ice cream is safe. But death? Just talking about death? That’s scary.

To clarify, it’s not that I don’t want to talk to my kids about DiDi and Grandpa and heaven. Trust me, NOTHING warms my heart more than when the Loud One asks questions about my Mom.

It’s just scary because I simply don’t have the answers. And as parents, we always want to be able to give our kids the answers. But I don’t know what happens when you die. And I don’t know what heaven looks like, although yes, I’m fairly certain there is cake. (HEAVEN CAKE, apparently.)

We can only tell our kids what we believe to be true.

We can also tell them that we are simply not sure.

And then we can help them grow up and formulate their own beliefs… about life, about death, about God, about faith.

 

One more story… I emailed the following to some family members this past February:

Just spent 20 minutes in the car with the Loud One discussing death, heaven and DiDi. Some of her more interesting questions/comments included:

      • Is heaven in outer space or just really, really, really high in the sky? (I don’t know.)
      • If our bodies are buried, how do we get to heaven? (I have no idea.)
      • Do Grandpa and DiDi, like, see each other in heaven? (I really hope so.)
      • Are their puppies in heaven? (Depends on who you ask… 

And after all of this exhausting (for me) dialogue, including my noting that these are all good questions and I don’t really have great answers, she closes with…

“I wish I was a bird so I could sneak into heaven while I’m still alive and have ice cream with your Mom at a restaurant.”

PS. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog post in here somewhere.

There was. It just took me this long to find it.