The other day I decided to start the process of cleaning. I’ve been unable to conjure up the strength to do anything for longer than a couple minutes. The mess, however, began to drive me crazy. I turned on some music, put my hair up, and got moving. Linen that needed to be washed. Tables that needed to be cleaned off. Clothes that needed to be put up, organized, or given away. And this is where I ran into my problem.
Her coat hanging in my closet. Her favorite coat, complete with the trademark wad of tissue in the pocket. Her hobo skirt that I always begged to wear, now hanging in plain site for me to do with as I please. Her sheer, cream, two-piece dress, that I know is too big, but wanted to keep anyway. She was all over the room. Her smell. Her style. Her light. I found myself sobbing, an unidentifiable pain in the pit of my stomach, an instant headache at my temples. I had no control. I couldn’t stop it. I didn’t’ even understand it.
‘They’ keep telling me that this is all normal. That it’s gonna take time. That I have to get through the first year then it’ll get easier. That it’s okay. Nothing sounds or seems further from the truth to me. I can’t even get through the first quarter in tact.
Later that day, after I’d used my last bit of energy, I decided to take a break. Sitting on the couch, I had an indescribable need to hug my daughter. I called her to me, held her in my lap like I had when she was a baby, and just like earlier, something in me broke. I couldn’t stop the tears, I couldn’t quiet the sobs, I couldn’t shake the sickness that overwhelmed me. It has become too much. I cry at puppies, commercials, magazine ads, movies, music. I cry when driving, sitting, standing, sleeping, cooking, and doing nothing at all. I cry when I think about the times I’ve cried. I feel the tears now as I’m trying to get this out.
No one prepared me for this. For the agony that would follow the pain. For the piercing headaches. For the sleepless nights. For the days I can’t wake up. For the lack of appetite. For the times I eat until I’m sick.
Easter weekend just passed. I tried to numb it away. I went to a party on Saturday night. I don’t go to parties. I don’t go out. I’m much more comfortable at home. But I put on a dress (a rather gorgeous one I might add), made up my face, smoothed and oiled my locs, put on a bad azz pair of heels and went to a party. The party itself wasn’t so wonderful, but I have to admit it felt good. I felt pretty. I smiled and laughed and giggled with my friends. I stayed up late. For just a few hours, I forgot.
But the next day was Easter. I decided that I wasn’t going to church. That wasn’t an agonizing decision as I’ve found it hard to go since she died anyway. I was all set to stay in bed the entire day and just let my emotions take me wherever they would. However, there would be none of that. I received a call at 8 am to inform that there were dinner reservations for 2:30, and I’d better be there. I was NOT happy, but not at all in a position to say no.
They say that God always knows what you need. That call from my aunt, that refusal to allow me to wallow in my emotions on that special day was the best thing that could’ve happened. My family gathered around me and we had a great time. I didn’t realize until later that for those few moments, it didn’t hurt so much. There were no tears. There was nothing churning in my stomach.
As mother’s day approaches, my level of anxiety increases. I pray once again to be surrounded by family, but have little confidence that they can keep the sick away. I guess I have to hold on to moments like Easter. Moments that don’t hurt so much.
One day, one breath at a time…