se réveiller lentement & douloureusement

Slowly I wake.

Dawn has been slowly slipping the sheet off of my skin, but now the full force of light is forcing itself on my bare and vulnerable form.

Numb slumber was so much easier.  Why are there no blinds to shut out this light?  I am not ready for the mourning.


It is little things.  The pug that used to sleep with mom now sleeps with me.  Yet every night (if you can call 4 to 6 am “night”) when we go down the hall she stubbornly sits at Mom’s closed door.  I push her with my foot to keep her going just as I have to push myself to keep going.  I choke up and beg her: Please do not do this to me!


I was on the phone to a dear friend who I have known since he was five.  My mother was a friend of his parents and knew him from birth.  We have long known that he was gay but he has remained in the closet.  In talking, he was as blue as I because of the end of a relationship.  He did not want to burden me when he knew how hard this has been on me.  I told him, “Do I want to worry about my problems or yours?” so he told me.  He was hesitant and vague about the details.  I could almost hear the deep breath he took before he used the first personal pronoun He.  Then the details came.  I was hurt for his loss, proud for his strength, and so happy that he had at last felt comfortable enough in his skin to admit it.

  • As soon as I hung up the phone I looked to where Mom sat.  I knew she would be so happy to hear that he had finally come out to me.  I had actually forgotten for a minute until I realized that I was sitting in a rearranged room and that she was no longer there.

I looked down at the time on the computer the other night and noticed that it was terribly quiet for 8:30 at night.  My first thought was, Mom must have gone to bed early.  At times, it still seems like she must be in her room… hasn’t woken up yet or went to bed early.  My brain will not wrap around the fact that she is dead.


Yet I wake.  I have hit snooze as many times as I could manage.  The blankets have been pulled off of me and the drapes opened.  It is the first day in a new school.  It is the first day of a new job.  It is the first step in a new country where I do not speak the language or know the customs.  Everything ahead is unknown and I do not know where to put my feet.  I can only do one thing at a time.  I put my feet on the edge of the bed.  I rise.  I shower.  I put on my most comfortable armor.  I make coffee (lots of coffee).  I drag my feet as I look out the window to check the weather and test the waters.


Maybe I can call in sick and stall this job called life one more day.


faire le deuil

  • This is the third day in a series of funeral rites for my Grammy.  She wished to have a memorial, which was done on Saturday with the obligatory time spent with family and friends after.  Requiem Mass was said on Sunday with yet another gathering to follow.  Today, her ashes are interred with my grandfather at the Veterans’ Cemetery.  As this was Grammy’s desire… I believe I could have gotten through this in her memory.  Here is where the trouble lies:
  • No one will let this simply be about Grammy, especially where I am concerned.  Every comment is about Mom and it very truly feels like services for her – services she did not want and services that – quite frankly – I cannot handle.  Everyone is looking at me wondering when I am going to cry/scream/breakdown – never.  We are not allowed to have emotions in my family… so why do we try to mourn?
  • Mourning is a public and mutual sharing of grief by very definition.  It’s rituals and practices have always been more about the display of death so that others can share in it.  That is fine… if one is able to do that.  But if one has been raised in such a way that the public display of emotion is disgraceful, mourning becomes nothing but uncomfortable and more pain than comfort.
  • I cannot cry.  In the last three days, I have shed not one tear.  Oh… at home, when alone, when something strikes me enough to break through the numb haze – some tears have come.  Even those get swallowed down though.  I know that if I start – I will not stop.  Personally, I do not believe in the public practice of mourning.  I, like my mother, simply wish to be scattered someplace meaningful to me and my closest loved ones.  I seldom go to funerals… and never for the deceased.
  • I do not need to go to a memorial to mourn or grieve for my Grammy.  I memorialize her in small ways constantly.  I wear the scarf she knit.  My favorite coat is a suede coat with a fur collar that she gave me – vintage from the ’30s.  I have many memories of her.  I do not personally believe that she is in a position to care whether I am at her memorial or not.  But there are other living members of my family that do seem to take some comfort in me being there.  My best friend’s grandfather died not long ago – a man I loved well too – and though I would not have gone to the funeral for his sake, I went for hers.  She needed me.  I am just so frustrated by being expected to grieve publicly when that goes against my very nature… a nature passed down by the women I am being asked to grieve publicly for.  Does that not contradict and disrespect their memory?
  • At least this ends today.  At least this part of it ends today… the grief will never end, but at least I can keep it private and personal where it belongs – well aside from what finds its way here.  There will be other traumas… cleaning through Mom’s things, scattering her ashes, and even just working my way through this.  I still feel like I am swimming through jello and do not know top from bottom.  But being expected to stand there and put on public display for the comfort of others – that ends today.