grief, Living Life

Writing in my head, on grief

I could have sworn that I’d been writing all this time. I create narratives in my head. I imagine typing. I plot what type of imagery I should use to accompany a post. But obviously I have not posted anything in almost two years. I miss it.

Maybe because the last post was actually written by my mom, Susan Skelly (March 7, 1943-July 29, 2016.)

We lost her to &^%$(# cancer last year. The time between her diagnosis and her passing was so quick – June 1st – July 29th – that I feel like I have finally processed the diagnosis. I am still working on processing her death.   There are days I feel like I’ve got it (eureka!) and then weeks that go by with a hurt that is still raw.

I’m a little worried because my mom always said that she never got over losing her mom.

Everyone dies (duh). I am surrounded by people who have experienced loss, and for those who have been lucky, it is just a matter of time. And yet, despite everyone (everyone!) knowing that loss is a part of life, the collective ‘we’ just simply don’t deal with it very well.

“The first year is so hard.” Sigh. Yes, the first year was so hard. I still had the physical instinct to pick up the phone every day. But passing the anniversary of her death didn’t magically part the clouds or take away the hurt.

But, I don’t reflexively pick up the phone anymore to call her, so I guess that is a good thing? It doesn’t take away the need to talk to her – to have her talk me off the proverbial ledge (OMG I have a full blown teenager and I need my mom to remind me that this too shall pass.)

The “work” of dealing with her life and death is nearly over. Her house is sold, we divided up her pottery and special life artifacts, we took care of the paperwork and the accounts and relocated the cats.  There are a few boxes of things we want to revisit later – maybe sell or maybe keep. But we just couldn’t do it all.  Even though the literal and figurative “heavy lifting” of settling the estate is done, it didn’t magically turn a page in the manual on how-to-process-loss.

I can talk about her without crying sometimes (but as my dear amazing friends know, I cry ugly tears too.) Damn it how I long for her voice, her advice, her laugh.

The habit of living with her loss is setting in. But the grief, it isn’t settled.

2015-04-06 15-55-39_IMG_4537
2015 Trip to Uganda


grief, Living Life, Parenting

Mourning Other People’s Loss

Some deaths are simply tragic.  Three in the past year have hurt me to the core.  though none were people who were close to me (or that I even knew,)

Rachel, mom of 3
Tal, age 3
Jennifer, mom of 3

Each loss hit a nerve and made me stop and assess my life, my abundance, my perspective; and I become all too aware of how quickly life can be taken.

Every mother’s greatest 2 fears in life are 1. losing a child and 2. dying and leaving our children motherless.

This week, a mom named Jennifer was killed while putting her small child in the back of her red Honda mini-van.  She was in front of her kids’ school, a few neighborhoods over from mine; close enough that I know many people who attend the school.  I never met Jennifer, but given how connected our community is, I could have.  She was doing what we moms have done hundreds, thousands of times over the years.  What should have been an innocuous moment became a tragic moment.

Of course, I immediately put myself in this situation and applied my own family to this tragedy — how would my boys cope, my husband, my friends?

Less than a year ago, friends lost their 3 year old child in a tragic drowning accident.  (A child I hadn’t met.)  One of my kids went to preschool with one of their older kids many years ago, and then I had the pleasure of working with them not long before Tal died.

It is so unfair that Tal  died, a little boy who was just playing and trying to have fun — taking normal kid risks no different than the kind my own boys have taken.  While Tal’s parents have been strong in the face of their loss, all of the parents in our community were left wondering how they could possibly handle it themselves, if something so tragic happened to their own child.

Every-day, simple living turns tragic in a moment.  Jennifer being a mom; Tal being a kid.  Even though we buckle seat belts, put helmets on heads, hold hands while crossing streets, we simply hold our breath and hope that nothing tragic will happen.

Not long before Tal died, our community lost Rachel. It has been many years since we’d seen each other.  But in the early years of having kids, we were at park play dates, and mom’s group events, and we babysat each others little ones in our babysitting co-op.  I had known that she was battling breast cancer, but wasn’t aware of how advanced it had become, when she died.

The loss was big.  Her three kids are my 3 kids age.  We babysat each others’ kids.  How could she be gone?  Regret that I didn’t know how sick she had become was overshadowed by an extreme sadness for her family.  Her wake was like a reunion of the moms from those early years — all of us just heartbroken for her children and husband.  All of us wondering how our families could handle it if had been us.

When tragedy happens around us, we are selfishly thankful that we are unscathed.  We are sad for those lost. We are sad for the families and close friends who we know grieve far worse than we do.

And we feel ridiculously lucky to NOT know that horrid empty feeling of loss, to have been spared tragedy.

Though, We DO IMAGINE what it feels like.

So we hug our kids and spouses harder;
we speak more gently;
we get perspective on how good things really are.

And as a community, we share our sadness for the passing of Rachel, Tal and Jennifer, and we grieve with their families.

My heart goes out to Jennifer’s family, and to Tal’s family, and to Rachel’s family.   I hope that they feel the support and love that flows from the community, and I hope they know that many of us hurt for their loss and are awed by their courage and strength in the face of tragedy.