Tag Archives: loss

Oh, hello June.

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My youngest daughter is 18, and she has been enlisted in the U.S. Army since last fall. So, we’ve known since that time that she’s headed off to basic training this month to get fine-tuned according to the military code and training schedule. She’s been having mini-panic attacks in the last month or so – homesickness is making a pre-emptive strike it seems. I assured her she’ll be fine, and that once she gets there and gets busy she’ll feel better. And of course, she’ll be home next November.

Last month, my sister was offered an amazing career opportunity in Portland, Oregon. She’s been looking for a new job for a year or so, so I’ve known she was going to go somewhere for quite a while. But Portland… well, it’s not a long weekend’s drive away.

Today, my oldest daughter (and mother of the Grand-Cuteness) found out there is an apartment available at a transitional housing program for single parents called Havenwood. She and her daughter have been living with us, and she’s been on their waiting list for a little while. They’ve called before, but she wasn’t making a steady income… and simply wasn’t ready to make the leap. This time, she’s ready to go. She’s understandably nervous about the idea. She’s afraid of losing her job, and the instability that would cause. But of course, that’s what all “grown-ups” worry about, right? I assured her that life is unpredictable, and that this experience will help her gain confidence and be ready to be truly independent when she leaves there. And a healthy pocketful of fear is not a bad thing.

Daughter & Grand-cuteness

The oldest and the Grand-Cuteness.

So, suddenly, June’s theme is going to be about leaving.

It’s odd, this piling on of things. It reminds me of August 2009… that month my youngest daughter decided to go live with her father and my mother died. It was fairly devastating – dealing with those two loses at the same time. I think I shoved the grief of losing my daughter deep down and haven’t really dealt with it. The grief of losing mom was more than enough. But with my daughter it was not a loss as much as a feeling of rejection and failure. Strange how things come along in rushes like this.

This month will be different… since I know that I’m not losing anyone permanently, but I’m sure there will be some tough times here and there. And of course, I’m also looking forward to some of the changes. Cleaner bathrooms, spending time with my oldest that don’t involve lecturing and griping… cleaner bathrooms…

I don’t have anything wise or witty to finish with. I simply needed to put down the words. Sometimes that’s all I can do, I suppose.

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The After Times

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The After Times

When my mother died I was devastated for myself. I lost a business partner, a confidant, and the biggest cheerleader for me… for everything I did in my life… that I would ever have. I lost the person I went to with any frustration or life-question. I lost my best “girlfriend”… the person I went to when my spouse drove me nuts, when my children left me speechless, when I had a life-decision to make and wasn’t sure which road to take.

I have a wonderful husband who has picked up the slack in some areas. I have had to learn to go to him when I am frustrated or confused, and he does a great job, but he doesn’t fill the entire void. My sister covers a lot of ground in other areas, because she has become my road-trip partner and let me rant to her when I am going nuts at home and just need to feel sorry for myself.

But the biggest source of sadness I have is actually not about me. It’s about her. My sister. She was, in many ways, an only child from late elementary school through college. Even though my mom remarried, they were kind of a dynamic duo. Mom was able to share many experiences with my sister that she couldn’t with her older kids. When mom died, one of my first feelings of sadness was for the many, many experiences that my sister was still going to have that our mom wouldn’t share with her. My brothers and I had had weddings, children, career successes, and hobby successes that my sister had only started to set goals for when she died… I hated that my sister would not have our mother here to share these things as I and my brothers did.

Last week, my sister lost one of her close childhood friends to an untimely death. Mom knew the young man’s family (I say “young man”… he was 31, so I guess he was actually a Man) so her number should have been the first my sister called. They could have shared a common history as they discussed the news. They would have been able to remember some great moments together. Mom would have offered to go with my sister to Dallas for the funeral. Instead, I got the phone call. I am sympathetic, of course. I even cried as my sister told me what she knew about what happened. I remember her friend, and met him once or twice, but it’s not the same. Not even close.

I knew when mom died that I would be taking mom’s place for my sister in many ways. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy when it has to happen. I am happy to do it, of course! But I hate with every cell of my body that I have to.

Some things get easier with time, but I don’t think this will. Ever.

Hard, but not impossible.

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Having now celebrated two Christmases without my mother I am convinced that, contrary to what well-intentioned people have told me, it will never get any easier. 2009 was very difficult because I spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas that year away from home and my family and the traditions that are comfortable for me, but this most recent holiday season I got to spend both of those days with my siblings and it was still hard. Not sobbing-in-bed-for-hours hard… there was no crying or reminiscing aside from a comment at Thanksgiving about the day also being her birthday… the difficulty was less intrusive, but just as painful.

One particularly tough moment came at a craft fair my sister and I were selling at in October. As I was browsing the other booths I discovered something that would have been a perfect gift for my Mom and was hit by the stunning realization that I would never buy her another gift. My mother was a joy to buy for. She and I had similar taste in many things – decor, clothing, hobbies. Perhaps that’s why I now have so much of her stuff in my garage? I felt I knew her so well that when I found The Perfect Gift it was a thrill just to anticipate her opening it, let alone seeing her reaction post-reveal.

Another wrinkle this year was the grand-baby in our house. She looks so much like my mother did as a baby – she has her chin and her smile and her red hair!! – and I know Mom would have loved to have a new baby to buy for. I hope I can measure up to Mom’s stellar Nana talents as I learn to be a Nonnie for my little one.

But being with my brothers at Thanksgiving and my sister for Christmas helped somewhat as we move forward “sans mere”. I’m confident we will make new traditions as we learn to share our own homes with each other instead of relying on mom to always be the hub of our family wheel.

Losing a parent in 2009, and gaining a grandchild in 2010 kind of trumped any list of goals I made those years. I’ll give 2011 some thought and get back to you on that.

Until then – I’ll share my mantra for the new year:

Do or do not… there is no try.   — Yoda