Next Sunday on my 42nd birthday it will be exactly 14.5 years that I lost my mother unexpectedly at the ripe ole age of 50. Janice left this earth on my “half birthday” February 20th 2003. I was 27 and she was ONLY FIFTY. I was her oldest child and she was my ONLY Mother. In recent weeks I have been struggling with my on again off again friend Miss. Anxiety. Do you know her? She is really not nice of a person more like a destructive and hurtful bitch that exhibits queen-bee like behavior and likes to invade my mind every so often. You know mental health issues are still stigmatized, so it can be awkward to open up about them. I don’t find anything awkward in talking about it. I find that sometimes talking about anxiety can help or it can give me even more anxiety. Next thing you know the evil partners of overthinking and anxiety become my BFF’s. My anxious brain is hypervigilant and if these situations burned calories, I’d be a skinny bitch or almost dead.
YES I know most of the things going on in my head are irrational! Yes, I am intellectually aware that I probably won’t die if my kids don’t know what’s for dinner tomorrow or that someone may come into my house and find dirty laundry on the bathroom floor. If my kid had a fight with his friend I know it’s really not my problem but I take it to heart and examine it to death! Yet that awareness doesn’t change the fact that there are things outside of my control which make it nearly impossible not to have an emotional (and physical) reaction to stupid crap (and sometimes not so stupid crap). The not so stupid crap these days seem to be all about Janice. I lost my Mother so young, so beautiful so full of life. And when dates approach, Miss. Anxiety shows her ugly face. I suppose turning 42 next week reminds me that Janice had only 8 years left. EIGHT years left…. In EIGHT plus years I want to be preparing for retirement. I want to be watching my children graduate College and meet their spouses. Dance at my sons weddings, join AARP and receive a senior discount at the local pizzeria. I want to be a grandmother and celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with the love of my life. I want to travel and visit each baseball stadium in the USA a dream we talked about doing together. All things she missed, all things that were ripped from her. Will I make it past 50? Until I lost her I never considered limitations, only possibilities.
When a parent of an adult dies, there is an almost unspoken expectation that it will not hit you head on. Question, is 27 years old an adult? It sure did not feel like it at the time. I think we are expected to understand as an adult that death is an expected part of life and we should handle these situations in an appropriate manor. What the hell is appropriate? What does that even mean? That you should not be sad? That you should be grateful they didn’t die when you were younger? This loss does not diminish because you are this so called adult. Society places such pressure for you to get over this loss and to get over the grief “in time.” What the hell is a good time? How long is it ok to grieve the loss of someone whom gave your life and took care of you for 27 years? For me this loss happened in a 6 second phone call ~ Come quick Mommy can’t breathe and we just called 911 ~ it happened in a moment but the aftermath is still there 14.5 years later. I doesn’t matter how old we are.
After Janice passed I was forced to take another look at her life and impact on my life. I realized, perhaps for the first time, all she did for me as a child. My Johnny was 11 months old when my Mother passed and I was able to appreciate the challenges she may have had with her own children. Just the other day my potty training nephew Nicholas needed his Mothers help in the bathroom. While my sister in law Suzanne was cleaning him she looked at my youngest son Christian and said “remember this when your mean to your Mommy, she did this for you a day not too long ago.” I gained a new perspective on her life and her effect on mine.
My mom (and I) always attracted humans with unteachable charisma, in the days after her death, the gravity of her death was unexplainable. The house overflowed with people asking to ease the pain, mostly through our stomachs, cooking enough food to feed a moderately sized petting zoo. Food is my family’s religion, and our kitchens are our sacred temples. There are too many memories from that time in my life. Many of them are slipping from me. Others are so faint that only the rarest combination of triggers—snow, French onion soup (the last meal she cooked with my sister), a kitchen with baked goods everywhere—bring the embers back to life.
So as Miss. Anxiety is still here visiting my brain like a bad houseguest. I am beginning to stand up straight after this latest spin as I call it. Standing up because I now can see what started this spin in the first place. Realizing that the love we shared and the relationship we had will not die. That depth of love, that depth of caring, is everlasting.
Now if that bitch Miss. Anxiety would kick the bucket all will be right in the world. My world.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson