A little over a year ago my mother died. She was my last remaining parent and when she died, a lot died with her.
Gone were the feelings of unconditional love that a parent gives. Gone was that comfort one feels of "going home". No more unconditional love. No more going home. No more finding a warm meal when I have spent all night in the lab. No more presents in my shoes on St. Nicholas Day. No more conversations and laughter about the silly things I did as a child.
So I built a fortress around myself. A strong one. I stayed bound in the denial stage. It was almost like a companion. It allowed me to function on a certain daily level. I was also proficient at avoidance. Hospice offered bereavement counseling which I knew would be a good thing. But I also knew that it would force me to feel in order to begin the healing process. So, I never went to the bereavement counseling offered by Hospice. Most of the time when I left the lab, I would go to a bookstore or coffee shop to take my mind off of the pain. Avoidance tied into denial allowed me to function in my stressful enviroment, deal with my personal disappointments, pass my oral candidacy examination, and live in my mother's house.
When some of the immediate stressors subsided from my life, my fortress somehow crumbled. No longer could I keep numbing myself. The pain manifested itself fiercely. I felt almost debilitated. I still feel that way. Sometimes I feel the pain searing through me and leaving me wondering if there ever be a day that I will feel better. Wondering and asking if a day will come when I can smile rather than wipe the tears from my cheeks.
Someone told me today that I am "willful and disobedient" (the person also left out stubborn). I have to say, it made me smile. Smile, because it sounded so much like what my mother would say to me. For the first time in over a year, I found myself smiling about my mother rather than crying. It gave me hope.
I realize that death is permanent. I will always have a void in my heart.
But hope is a good place to start. A good place to be.
(Photograph by Matthew Hendrickson--Lake View Cemetery)