Two Years.

2 years.  I figure I should be saying something like “It’s been a long time.”  Has it been?  Feels like yesterday, feels like an eternity.

I miss you.  Sometimes I miss the you I had before you got sick.  Sometimes I’m not mourning my mother who died 2 years ago, sometimes I’m mourning the one who died long before that, the one who died that day when I was 14 and a doctor confirmed a diagnosis we all suspected.  Or the one who died before that when Dad left four years earlier.  Or the one who died a little bit every day he was still there.

Sometimes I mourn the mother I never had.  The mother who might have existed before I was born or before my brother was born.  Or maybe it’s the mother who never could have existed.  Maybe it’s the mom I wish I had who was like the moms on TV:  Carol Brady or June Cleaver when I was younger;  Lorelai Gilmore when I was older.

I thought I did a really good job of preparing for the end of your life.  You told me you were going to die.  No one knew what the future held but there was (and still isn’t) a cure for MS and we didn’t know how long it would take but if one thing was for sure, it was that you were going to die.  You were always clear about that.

But the days were long and the years were short, just like they say with raising children.  Somewhere in there I forgot you were my mother and you forgot I was your child.

And then the call came in that you were going to the emergency room again.  What was it, the 6th time in a year?  Each time I thought there was no way your body could survive one more infection but each time you’d pull through.

Something was different this time.  I could see it, hear it, feel it.  People kept saying to try to be positive, that you could recover again.  That made me furious.  I looked in your eyes.  I knew you would not.

More setbacks.  A 3 a.m phone call from the Critical Care Unit.  Another call to say it was time to remove life support.  To say goodbye. To wait.  10 days after the onset of your last infection, you finally let go.

And now, here we are, 2 years later.  I always thought people went through a numb phase up front, then gradually started to deal and at some point they looked back and realized they’ve accepted.  Somehow I’m still numb, except when I’m not, until I can stuff it back down.  I’m not sure if I’m starting to deal.  I’m not sure I’ll ever accept.

Grief is a pretty strange thing, indeed.  Some days I know that your release from your physical body was probably a relief for you and that makes me happy.  Some days I am glad that your suffering is over.  And some days, selfishly, I’m glad that my days of watching you suffer are over.  Those days I feel like the worst daughter in the world for thinking such a thing.

I’m still angry that you’re gone and I’m still angry for how long you weren’t there before that.  I’m angry that I was robbed of a mother.  I’m angry about so many things.  I’m not sure who I’m angry at.  You? The universe?  I really don’t know.

At the same time, I’m sad.  I’m sad that I didn’t know the woman that I suspect you once were before everything went wrong.  I’m sad that we didn’t have the connection that so many women have with their mothers.  I’m sad for everything we missed out on – you enjoying your daughter, your daughter enjoying her mother.

But also, I’m thankful for what we did have, for the good times, for the good memories that do exist.   And some days I’m OK.  I can laugh, and smile, and poke fun at you like I did when you were alive.  Some days things feel our brand of normal.

It’s exhausting to feel all these different things, sometimes all at once.  Some days it’s easier, safer, to just not feel any of them.  Some days I use all my strength to just not think of you and to keep all of the feelings at bay.

Two years is not enough time to process it all.  It just isn’t.

Rest in peace, Mom.  
November 17, 1948 – April 22, 2010

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78 Responses to “Two Years.”

  1. Beautifully written. And you’re right, two years is not enough. I hope that things get easier with time.

  2. Michelle, what a grueling journey, but beautifully told. I especially love the paragraph that gradually steps back in time to moments of possible loss. I’m sorry you lost your mom so early and so painfully.

  3. Wonderfully written…just found out a few days ago that my grandfather is dying of cancer. I don’t want it to be a painful journey for him, but I’m afraid it might be. I hadn’t even stopped to think about my own journey…thanks for bringing it to light, so I can deal with the craziness I’m feeling right now!

  4. Oh Michelle. I don’t even know where to begin. This was beautiful, heart wrenching and honest. I’m so sorry for your loss. Truly.

  5. Janice says:

    This is a beautiful post. That whole “time heals all wounds” thing isn’t really accurate. I mean, if your arm gets off, you will eventually heal, and you’ll learn to live without your arm, but your arm never comes back and you are never the same.

    Hang in there.

  6. Malina says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. It must have been very difficult.

    September will be 10 years since my dad passed away. I don’t recall when I accepted it. But I mostly have. It just sort of became reality. I know it took me a good 6 months before I could engage in a project again, a full year for the fog to lift and the anger, well, I’ll let you know when that is gone. It is greatly diminished.

    Take care, and good luck getting through these next few days. Anniversaries are hard. Hugs!!

  7. Two years is definitely not enough. My mom died a dozen years ago and I still miss her. I think about all the times I’d like to pick up the phone to ask her opinion. I doubt that will ever fully recede. Poignant post.

  8. “And some days, selfishly, I’m glad that my days of watching you suffer are over. Those days I feel like the worst daughter in the world for thinking such a thing.” – This, this is real. This is actually what happens and listen to me (even though you don’t know me) – YOU ARE JUSTIFIED in how you feel. You are not a terrible person or the worst daughter in the world. You are human, you are love, and you are grace. /lecture over

    I lost my Mom 24 years ago and lost my Dad 9 years ago. Mom was sick with breast cancer for 11 months and Dad died unexpectedly from depression and completed suicide. Well, in hindsight, there were plenty of warning signs, but at the time, it was a total shock.

    Speaking purely from my own experience, it never gets “easier,” but the intensity does diminish. I still have days when the loss takes my breath away, though those are few and far between now.

    I am the age now my mother was when she died. I am not afraid of dying before my next birthday, though I do feel a bit like I’m approaching The Great Unknown somehow. As if because Mom never saw 36, no one else has either. Of course I know this is untrue, yet my heart still feels a little wonky about it.

    Hugs and strength to you. I’m so glad “some days I’m OK. I can laugh, and smile, and poke fun at you like I did when you were alive. Some days things feel our brand of normal.”

    • Thank you so much. Your comment was so kind – I really appreciate it. The intensity of it… yes, that’s such a good way to put it. I’m sorry about your parents. I’m sure that’s hard. Hugs and strength back at you.

  9. Aubrey Anne says:

    Crying for you right now. I watched my son’s paternal grandmother die of MS and I can’t even tell you how much I wish you hadn’t gone through this. xoxo

  10. Karine says:

    Beautiful. So very touching.

    This is my perspective on grief: it never really goes away. You never truly stop grieving. However, eventually you learn to live in spite of it or with it – it all depends on your perception. It becomes part of you. It doesn’t diminish you or take away from the wonderful things that life has brought. It just is.

    You morn your mother and the idea of what should have been. Some days will be worse than others and that’s ok… just remember that your grief is not you, it’s definitely part of you but does not need to define you.

    Thank you for sharing with us your story.

  11. Miranda says:

    I’m sorry that you and your mother had to go through that. Grief is a hard process and the loss of a parent is tough. My grandfather died 24 years ago and my mom still misses him. Powerful post.

  12. Jamie says:

    I would guess it takes a lifetime of your own to really ‘deal’ with such loss. Unfortunately there is no manual for grief and the ways you are dealing with it are exactly what you should be doing for you.

  13. Christie says:

    Beautifully written. I am sorry that you had to watch your mother go through that and that your mother had to go through it. So many people are robbed of what “could have been.” Do you ever really get over it or heal?

  14. Stephanie says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. There’s no “right” way to grieve, and no time will ever be “enough”.

    “And some days, selfishly, I’m glad that my days of watching you suffer are over. Those days I feel like the worst daughter in the world for thinking such a thing” <-- this isn't selfish. It doesn't make you a bad daughter. It just makes you a human being - a human being who obviously loved her mother.

    • Thank you. It’s hard not to think of it as selfish. When I step back from it, sometimes I can change my perception of it. In the midst of it, not yet. Thank you for the kind words.

  15. I’m sorry for your loss, and sorry for the grieving that you had to go through before she died.

    This was an honest, heartfelt piece. Thanks for sharing.

  16. christina says:

    oh gosh i’m so SO very sorry.

  17. no, 2 years is not enough time. there will never be enough time to make it all right, all of the time. but you are doing her such an honor here, writing your words out. writing your heart out. i love that i get to witness this. so, so, sorry friend. I’m giving you a big hug, hope you can feel it.

  18. So sorry for your loss, Michelle. I wish I could say that it gets easier. I think that it must at some point, but it’s been 17 yrs since my grandfather died and I still get so sad and angry over it…as if it happened just yesterday. Great, heartfelt writing!

  19. Gia says:

    So so so sad. I’m sorry for your loss. *Sniffle*

  20. so sorry. wishing you all the best.

  21. I’m sorry for your loss. Not just your mother but the experiences in life with her. Be strong.

  22. Kristin says:

    Wow. A wonderful, confessional, heart-felt post. It’s why we have anniversaries, isn’t it? To give us a prescribed time to let the feelings gush forth. Thank you.

    • So true about the prescribed time. I feel like if I can just get to the 22nd, I can go back to normal (whatever that is!) on the 23rd. Anniversaries are good in that respect. Thank you so much.

  23. I’m so sorry for your loss and two years is not enough time to process it all. Your post was lovely and raw and thank you for writing it.

  24. Stacey says:

    Wow, Michelle. I am choked up. I’m so sorry for your losses. I think you have every right to still be in the grieving process. This was a beautifully written piece.

  25. KimP says:

    That was so raw. I loved it. Beautiful. I get it. When I wrote about my grandmother, I wrote the good stuff. I needed to remember the good stuff right now because we haven’t been saying it lately.

    Great writing. Hugs to you.

    ~The G is Silent

    • Thanks Kim. I started writing a memory piece, but I’m not there, in that place right now. You do need to remember the good because otherwise the sad swallows you whole. Thank you so much, I hope you’re doing ok.

  26. Sending a lot of hugs to you.

  27. Delilah Love says:

    I don’t even have the words Michelle. Beautifully written but so sad and raw. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  28. Eloquently written….my mother had MS but it never progressed. Still, I have already outlived her in age by several years. I remember it was several years (more than two) before I could think of her without crying. Sending hugs…

  29. Julia says:

    What a beautiful and heart wrenching post.
    My Dad died when I was only 18. It will be 10 years this October.
    And a decade still hasn’t been enough time to process it all. I don’t know if there will ever be enough time to process this tremendous loss.
    Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself.

  30. A beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

  31. Lenore says:

    Michelle, I appreciate your transparency. Death is hard regardless of how it happens. I can empathize with much of what you wrote. My sister-in-law has MS, my brother-in-law has been battling Diabetes since he was 2yrs old (he is 44 now). While my sister-in-law is still doing well, my brother-in-law is in and out of the hospital frequently. In fact, he was in the hospital last night, but he is back home again today. The ups and downs.

    I lost my Dad nearly 20yrs ago. 2yrs is not long enough, and while the sting of my Dad’s death has passed, the tears, the sadness, the longing to see him still happen. My heart goes out to you.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your SIL and BIL. I hope your SIL remains well and that your BIL can stabilize and be well. The ups and downs are just awful. I’m sorry about your dad too. Thank you for your kind words and your story.

  32. Thank you for sharing, Michelle. My mother-in-law has MS and has been in and out of the ER and hospital countless times in the decade my wife and I have been together. Each time seeming more critical than the last. Then my mother got sick, and in a little more than a year was gone. Life is never quite what you expect.

    BTW, I wrote a post on the 1st anniversary of my mother’s passing that I thought I’d share, if you are so inclined:

    • Thanks for the link to your piece. I’m sorry about your mother and your MIL. MS is a crazy disease because it isn’t just bad always, especially depending on the kind you have. But for my mom too, each ER visit and subsequent hospital stay was worse and worse. She kept getting sepsis from UTIs and eventually her heart gave out. So tough… Thanks for sharing your story with me.

  33. You conveyed your honest feelings so beautifully. Grief is such a gritty, cumbersome business. I’m praying for your peace and comfort. Ellen

  34. Abby says:

    The true test of a good writer is being able to make your audience feel the emotions you’re writing about. This post is a success. I’m sorry for your loss. And my prayer for you is that you find peace.

  35. Ado says:

    Grief never truly goes away – but on the flip side, it deepens you – you know?
    Oh my God – what a post…and that photo of your mom as a little one, how old was she there – five or six? Oh my God. She was a sparkly beauty.

    • Thanks :) That picture is dated 1953, so depending on the time of year she was 4 or 5. She was the flower girl in a wedding, I think for her cousin. I do think it’s such a cute picture.

  36. Lisa Nolan says:

    What an honest tribute to your mom, and so well written. I admire writters who can “go deep”. You certainly did.

    My mom passed away when I was pregnant. She chose not to have yet another open-heart surgery, even though she knew she was going to be a grandma for the first time. I felt loss after her passing five weeks later. But she lived the way she died, with determination and independence.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about the otherside of a mother-daughter relationship.

    I do know my mom was not close to her mother, never even went to the funeral. Same with her father.

    Life is so full of puzzles. Some can be solved. Some cannot.

  37. “Or the one who died a little bit every day he was still there.” Brilliant. That was where I started crying. Such an insightful statement. You are so wise. Be kind to yourself and know you are not alone, even on the darkest of days. Much love to you.

  38. DawnMarie38 says:

    Thank you for sharing….beautifully written and very heartfelt….I am sure your feelings are “normal”. Expressing feelings is not always easy…I hope it was therapeutic for you….made me feel grateful for today….Thanks!!

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