My family recently stayed the night at my dad’s house due to a plumbing issue. It still feels weird saying that. “My dad’s house.” Because until February 23, 2013 it was my mom’s house too. During my stay there, I thought how it’s been three years, and I’m still grieving her loss. How differently I understand grief now compared to three years ago.
Once I stepped in my old bedroom I stood, silent for a while. Soaking in the memories and smells and feelings. It felt like ages since I’d slept there. I looked around and noticed the Betty Boop clock Mom bought me when I was younger. I smirked because I stopped liking Betty Boop ages ago. I guess she assumed my childhood affinity for a voluptuous bimbo stuck because she kept buying me the paraphernalia, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her to stop. Today, Betty’s garter continues to “tick” and “tock” on the bedroom wall, except it seems to do so louder than before. This noise used to bring me comfort, but this time it just felt empty. I guess this happens with time.
You know in the movies when you see people touch a deceased person’s belongings, as if they can feel them again? Well I did that at first, and I still found myself doing that at Dad’s house. It’s unexplainable, really, because that obviously won’t bring her back; and it certainly hasn’t taken away the pain. Instead, it’s just a reminder of how deeply I miss her. As I stated in my first grief post, The Loss Of My Mother, she was one of my best friends. As I look back to when I wrote that post, I realize that although my life has changed, my feelings about Mom’s loss have not. My grief persists. I still cry. My heart still drops at the thought of her absence. At times, it still feels like yesterday. It almost seems like I’ve hit an emotional plateau.
I’m no longer getting more accustomed to the loss of my mom – I believe this is as “accustomed” as I’m going to get. And for now, I’m OK with that. It took some time, but I understand now that people grieve differently and grief has no expiration date. The important thing is that I’m not depressed. I’m able to be happy; to live my life, laugh with Husband, and play with Flash and Buttercheeks.
Had someone read this post to me years ago, I would’ve thought, “Poor thing. She still hasn’t gotten over it.” But I now know the death of a loved one is not something you “get over.” At school I learned that there are five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). I assumed that I would experience all of these things until I accepted the reality of permanent loss, and that’s it. You move on without mourning anymore. Except, there was no bargaining for me. I don’t even think there was denial. I assumed, similar to a high school break up, that I would be sad for a couple of months, and then the sadness would dissipate. And maybe it does for some because people grieve differently. But this certainly hasn’t been the case for me.
I can be happy, grateful, and full, but what I understand now is that assuming the pain will just disappear is incorrect. Grief can be a chaotic wave I ride on in a beautiful, tranquil sea. Sometimes it pulls me in, and sometimes I peacefully ride afloat. And today, I ride this wave with acceptance, and without judgment or expectations, of when I will reach the shoreline.