Musings on Grief
I know this is not the ideal subject for a blog dedicated to the different aspects and experiences of a newbie in the world of writing. For this, I ask everyone’s forgiveness. The fare should be light, easy to digest and entertaining. But when death makes an appearance, we need a safe place where to pour our thoughts and this is mine. It began on July of 2014; when the inevitability of life found me. Moments no human can escape. If we are to live with a modicum of sanity, then we must strive to face and endure such events with the same serenity, acceptance, and peace as when we admire any of the Lord’s works, like a beautiful sunset or a glorious sunrise.
It began with the loss of my beloved mother to dementia. The denigration this decease inflicts it’s impossible to explain. In order to comprehend the meaning of impotence and despair, one has to witness the unrelenting disappearance of a brilliant mind into the void, along with the complete deterioration of a strong body, to such a weakened condition, that even the most basic tasks couldn’t be accomplished.
I don’t know if all the seven stages of grief apply in this situation. I do know, however, that in the span of three years after my mother’s diagnosis, both my younger sister and I sped through denial and shock right into bargaining. Nothing too lengthy or filled with promises, it was a simple request, “please dear Lord take her.” We felt no remorse, guilt, or anger, sheltered by the conviction the Lord did not intend for anyone to languish in a state of oblivion. If humans were made in the image of the Almighty and for his glory, there was nothing glorious about this. This was not living for her and it was hell for us.
It’s difficult to reconcile the need to speak with your mother, the woman who always listened and cared, who loved you more than anyone else in the world, and had the most interesting conversations, with this stranger. The face is familiar, but the blank stare and the jerking reactions to random impulses from a damaged brain, are not. She had become unreachable, virtually gone.
The day I had a doubt about our family’s past and realized I could never ask her again, I began to mourn my mother. I had taken for granted she would always be here to keep my connection to the past and to my roots alive. The memories left with her and I was left behind feeling incomplete.
The second blow was the day after Thanksgiving 2014. My sister through marriage, an angel in our midst, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. If that wasn’t bad enough the damned disease had metastasized to the brain. The floor below my husband and me disappeared in a nanosecond, and we were left hovering in the air lost and confused. Why? How? When? No! No! Shock and denial are vicious blows to the chest. They leave us gasping for air.
I will never forget her expression when she heard the six-month sentence or her words, “I’m not ready to go. I want to see my grandchildren grow.” How can anyone answer that? Banal excuses and pedestrian words of encouragement are meaningless. As I heard my husband’s heart splinter into tiny shards, mine cried in silence, for him and his family. Just as quickly we learned a powerful lesson in strength and endurance. Moments later, Angie wiped her eyes straightened her mussed hair and her declaration left us stunned. “I will beat this.”
In the ensuing months, she took her radiation treatments valiantly, followed by her chemo without a complaint. She embraced the disease as uniquely hers, and as such, she was convinced she owned the power to vanquish. But the Lord had other plans. He took her quickly, before the predicted sixth months. Before the disease would ravage her body and strip her mind of all traces of valor. Before she could understand what was happening to her. Before fear destroyed the lovely spirit.
Here we are, life goes on, with or without grief. Death is harder on the living, the departed are at rest as they wait for us to join them. In the meantime, my perspective has changed. It’s imperative to live hard and full, kiss often, say I love you every day, let go of anger and resentment, fulfill dreams, even in a small scale, and the most important, never take anything for granted. That is life’s biggest waste.