Friday, October 16, 2009

A Light in the Dark

Since Mom passed away seven weeks ago, my sister and I have been drifting through some sort of Stephen Kingish-type fog, trying to wrap our minds around all that happened. It still doesn't make sense and never will. How someone who was so vibrant and alive, someone so proactive about her health, so diligent about check-ups and annual exams, could harbor such a deadly illness without any symptoms.

And then, without even a fighting chance, die less than a month from her time of diagnosis.

To say we miss Mom sounds trite. Those words don't even begin to capture the gaping holes in our hearts. She wasn't just a parent but our best friend, our confidant, our cheerleader. We know that time will lessen our grief, but right now we can't foresee that day. The ache is too deep, the pain too searing.

On top of everything else, one week after Mom's service, I had to put her elderly and beloved dog, Holden to sleep, and then close my childhood home. Talk about an emotional tsunami.

But there has been one ray of light over these past seven weeks.

I have found myself surrounded by friends, co-workers and neighbors whose gestures of support have truly sustained me during this dark period. I really had no idea that people cared so much. And from their thoughtfulness I've garnered more comfort than they'll ever know.

Such as my best friend who never left my side during those first few days. I would have collapsed, figuratively and literally, had she not been there to hold me up. Or my brother-in-law, who has treated me with no less concern than he has his own wife. I have always suspected that my sister married a prince and now I know for sure.

My long-time friend from high school has phoned repeatedly, leaving voicemails that promise he's not a stalker, he just wants to make sure I'm okay. Friends that I haven't seen in ten and twenty years were kind enough to send thoughtful cards or make donations in my mom's name when they heard the news.

Others simply provided a shoulder to cry on. Like the day I was quietly sobbing at my desk and a co-worker came up behind me, put her arms around my shoulders, kissed the top of my head and without a word returned to her desk. On another emotional day, I opened my front door and found a gift bag. It contained a candle with a card from a neighbor I don't really know that well. She had heard the news and was offering her condolences with the hope that the blackberry scent might help me relax.

One painful revelation concerns two people whose total indifference has made me reconsider our relationships. One is someone I thought was a close friend and the other is my pastor. My pastor, for God's sake! Both know what transpired, yet haven't reached out even once, which hurts. Like it was a goldfish that died and not worth acknowledging. Their silence is as toxic as a cancer itself.

But just as a crisis reveals the worst in people, it also brings out the best. And I'm grateful for the kindness of those who have been there for me at a time when I didn't know I needed them.

I've learned that my life is, indeed, rich with those who are the best.


Tia said...


You are a brave and courageous woman. I know personally that losing your Mom is a life altering shift in how we see ourselves and the world. It is a difficult and painful time. There is no easy way thru, no right words, no re-dos.

John says that when a loved one passes, he or she will stay close by until those of us left behind are on our way to healing. Then they get their wings.

Our Mom's know stuff. We're sometimes so busy flexing our independence we don't realize how much they do know. But we get it now. We hear them loud and clear. Thru their love, we become stronger, fuller, wiser. And our Moms don't leave until we are ready!

Your Mom is now your Angel--smiling down on you ....zapping you with all kinds of strange and wonderful new friends, new ideas...and new puppies!!!!

I know you have kept your sense of humor and spirit and that you are surrounded by love of both the 2-legged and 4-legged kind.

I hope we can continue to share a small part of each other's lives.

Thinking of you with love,

Tia & Rosie
John & Frieda

Tena said...

I have been one of those delinquent friends, wrapped up in my own life and have not reached out. It is not because you have not been in my thoughts many times. I know what a special relationship you had with your Mom and loved what Tia wrote about her watching over you until you can let her go. Then she'll get her wings.
I'm glad that you can write about your feelings. I think that is one of the best ways besides time to lessen the ache.
Remember, our thoughts are with you.
Tena and John Gallagher

Maria said...

"I have found myself surrounded by friends, co-workers and neighbors whose gestures of support have truly sustained me during this dark period."

Eileen, when Ben died I remember feeling like I was in a state of grace and you were one of the people who graced me. I wish I could be closer to you right now and just hang out and drink tea and talk. Or not talk, if that's what you feel like.

All my love and best wishes to you from afar!

Maria (and whatshisname)

Halo roommate said...

Eileen, You know I just say it out loud but, Girl, you need a new pastor. You DESERVE a new pastor. They are not all like that. My pastor was and continues to be a rock since my man left the planet. You should have the same, my darling friend.

cindy said...

You will get past this. I know its so hard to believe...I know, I know. I've been where you are at, in that cold, hard place. And you will come to terms with this thing, put it in a frame of reference that will allow you to move on with life and you will smile again. You will hear her voice in your head, and you will smile. The grief does pass. Ahhh....but the missing them. That my friend, is the rub. There are no magical words that will make this time pass faster, oh how I wish there were, for I would say them for you. Take care of yourself. Saying a little prayer for you!
yapping cat

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