Last month I was neck deep in helping a non-fiction author get her stuff published, getting Wayfarer Resolve published and a variety of other tasks when my mother started a health crisis. 
Sadly my mother passed away 10/12/2018.  This led to a ton of tasks when I was not at my best.  Writing got set aside.  I don’t easily or lightly set aside writing because it balances and grounds me. 
Here I am a month later saying where did October and most of November go?  I know I went to my day job and worked through arranging the funeral, clearing out her apartment, and well you get the idea. 
I attended a book signing (my first) the first weekend in November.  The tasks associated with my mother’s death and estate are wrapping up but I’m left feeling unsettled, sad, and crabby.  I’m all for finding a nice recliner and curling up in a cave somewhere no one can bug me.  Reality is that isn’t going to happen. 
Writing is my sanity.  But I’ve not had time for writing.  This is never good.  I’ve got a manuscript in my bag and I started edits on it.  I’ve read on my phone using my kindle app to highlight grammatical errors I find as I read familiar friends (i.e. my published books). 

Over the last month, I’ve found little writing things to keep me sane.  This has helped with my grief and my stress.  I may not be able to climb into my comfy recliner in the luxury cave (yup totally have it designed with high speed internet and a large hot tub), but I am able to pick up writing tasks to ground me while I work through my grief.
Last weekend with other family members, we went through my sister’s house where mom lived prior to her health issues.  We sorted, took pictures, and discarded all of her things.  My niece struggled with memories and grief.  I shoved it all away, keeping the feelings squashed to get through the task at hand.  However, when I got to a box of stuff from her office, I discovered a stack of correspondence.  Some was letters from my sister who lives a few hours away.  The rest were all the cards her grandchildren had sent her.  She kept them all because the meant something to her.  
This simple thing – nothing worth keeping – cards with short little blurbs from family.  Yet I knew if mom were in the room, she would have said these were her most precious possessions.  This broke my reserve and brought tears to my eyes.  There was no point in keeping them but they spoke to me.
There are a few more tasks to work through, scanning pictures, figuring out slides, and so on.  Once we distribute her things among the family, her estate will be done for the most part.  The funeral and all the work will be behind us.  A part of me doesn’t want to let go of these last few tasks but I know like all the other times it’s difficult to let go – it’s time to let go.

Waiting for the Tears

I keep thinking I should have something profound to say, something to share which will give meaning to … well death.  In reality, I’m so busy right now I am not sure most of the time if I’m coming or going.  I’m dealing with the latest cluster of tasks for mom.

G Walter, Grace, Bud,
Eunice, Joan & Harley

First it was oh no she’s going to the doctor / ER / hospital in Madison!  My cluster of tasks included getting time off work and trying to keep up with the most vital tasks.  I needed to make sure there was food, gas, and other things.  Sitting with her, giving her time to rest while still making sure she knew I was there.

I hate hospitals – I hate them.  The smell, the sounds, the people.  I hate them.  Shoot me in the head before you take me to one to die.

The next cluster of tasks had to do with – mom’s dead.  Now we need to notify… everyone who ever knew her.  We had to make the choices for the funeral and arrangements for people to get there.  No one tells you the million and one decisions you have to make when in reality your mind is still busy trying to process … everything.

Joan holding Aimee

Going back to work was a relief – a hint of normal in an otherwise chaotic time.  I knew what was on my desk – mostly.  I knew what was expected.  I really spent more time being supported by the people there – did I need anything?

With a small break, the next cluster of activities was post funeral – what to do with the pictures, the flowers, the cards, the money… Let me tell you – if you love someone – plan your damn funeral down to the minutest detail so they don’t have to think about it but only have to follow directions.  Tell them the songs you want, the words you want said – whether religious or irreverent.

Joan & Virginia

Post all of this crap – I’m still not slowing down.  I had a writing event to go to.  It was a good experience in that I met a lot of interesting people.  It was a crappy event in that the organizer had no clue on how to organize.

Now I’m dealing with will / finances cluster of tasks… life insurance, closing bank accounts, retirement, sorting out her things.  It’s never ending – but reality is life goes on.  I want to have that moment – where tears fall and I feel all the sorrow but all I feel is numb and a need to organize and get the most recent cluster of tasks done.

This weekend is pay weekend so I’ll be working on budget, errands, and cleanup from last weekend which will involve working on a newsletter.  Next weekend is going to my sister’s house to organize mom’s things.  This will lead to the next cluster of tasks – dispersing those things according to her will and her wishes.

I tell people I’m fine or that I’m hyper irritable (to which a good friend asked how would we tell).  In reality – I don’t know what I feel – I’m too busy taking care of the different cluster of tasks.  Like it has in the past – it will likely be something ridiculous which sets off my tears.

A Journey Home

My mother passed away on October 12.  It’s been a difficult two weeks with her being ill and then dying.  My family and I have worked through her funeral and working on her estate.  I’ve been so busy, I’ve not had time to get to grieving.

I’ve been touchy.  The littlest thing will either make me cry or be exceedingly angry.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it – this is just my process.

The funeral was on Monday.  Yesterday two of my daughters flew back to their home.  My husband and I spent the afternoon doing things like walking through her apartment to double check everything and turning in her keys, returning the picture boards to the funeral home, returning her phone modem and turning off her phone service.  I spent more time writing thank you cards and organizing money to go to the church for their youth programs.

Writing some of the thank you cards took a lot of time.  They needed to be worded with care.  The doctor and nurses who helped mom in her last days deserved to know how much we appreciated the care they gave her.

Today I went back to work.  I was exhausted before I got to work – another symptom of my grieving.  I’m able to sleep a little better now.  The last couple weeks my sleep has been sporadic.

The care I’ve received – I don’t really have the words for how much people have given to me.  I’m still in the numb phase so don’t feel anyone needs to comfort me until I crash and need the comfort.  People are willing to listen and talk or not talk about it.  My faculty and student workers have been patient and understanding.  The care and concern they have shown warms my heart.  A friend who planned a vacation postponed it to be at the funeral.  She offered distraction and advice as she was able.

My niece listened to me grumble as I stressed over getting tasks done.  She took time to care even as she grieved.  The family came together without contentiousness and helped each other.  I’m impressed we could manage this – we are a bunch of strong willed people who all like their own way.

My daughters and husband have been there through all of this, helping me as I did tasks which had to be done.  They encouraged and supported me.  I can’t say enough about them.  With the five of us together, we spent time together, had meals together.  In all the stress, they were the best part of the last two weeks.

Mom loved her grandchildren.  She loved seeing them, talking to them, and spending time with them.  My daughters all got to say I love you to her and hear her say I love you back on her last day.

In my head, I see her walking to dad.  She’s not in pain.  She’s happy, healthy, and at peace.  I see my father, who passed 34 years ago, greeting her with a passionate kiss because he never could keep his hands off her.  I think they’re planning their next trip or making love.  

Life, Life, Life

Life is what happens when you’re planning your life, right?  Unexpectedly, we got to see Virginia this weekend.  It was wonderful to see her but unfortunately, she came home for a funeral of a friend’s mother. 

I spent my weekend running around, visiting with people, and accomplishing nothing useful.  I did get some editing done while Virginia was off with her friend. 

Funerals are always difficult.  This time of year is a little rough for me as it is the anniversary of my father’s death.  I was pregnant with Vicki at the time.  He was a good man, strong, loving, stubborn, accepting of who I was.  I have to say I’ve rarely felt as accepted as I did when dad was still here. 

Fall is about endings and most endings I handle just fine.  The ending of my father’s life marked me and changed me.  Up until his death, I had experienced death of my grandparents, uncle, cousins, but none of those deaths affected me as much as his.  I miss those people but I miss my dad more. 

Letting go is one of the hardest things we have to do in life.  It is a matter of trusting that when we let go of what we are clinging to that things will be better or we will have a better understanding of whatever we are hanging on to. 

This fall I guess I’m letting go a little more of the grief (yes I still grieve 30 years later) and embracing the memories I have of my father.  I can list off a dozen words to describe him but it doesn’t get to the core of how much he loved and cherished his family.  No matter what he accepted and helped us handle what needed to be handled. 

I’m sure he had flaws.  I know he was stubborn and proud.  For me, he listened.  He listened when I felt no one heard.  He hugged when I  needed it and he was firm when I needed that too.  I hope he’s proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished.  I know he’d love his granddaughters and be excited for their accomplishments. 

Grief is hard, has a hard edge to it and usually eases over time.  There are times when we lose people in our lives who are so dear and precious that the grief never stops but we have to learn to cope with it.  One way I cope is by honoring the person who has passed.