Saturday, April 28, 2007


Even though I know better, I find myself feeling as if whatever I'm feeling at this moment, is how I'm going to feel for, well, if not forever, at least the foreseeable future.

That means, if I'm having a good day, I think, 'cool, this grief thing isn't so bad.' And if I'm having a bad day I think, 'OMG, I can't believe how much this sucks, I'm never going to survive it.' OK, maybe slightly less dramatic than that, but you get the general idea.

So it's not surprising really, that the speed with which I can go from 'having a good day' to 'uncontrollable crying' leaves me stunned every time.

Today I went to a conference on women's health put on by OHSU. A fellow Jefferson HS grad who spoke at mom's funeral offered me free tickets so I called up Danette and Maureen and off we went.

I'm not sure how much we learned, but we certainly had a good time and enjoyed most of the speakers. For me it was more validation than anything. It's not like D, M & I really need to be told about the power & health benefits of women's friendships (our first workshop session), cause we definitely already know. But the speaker was entertaining and fun.

Likewise, I know how to use laughter in times of stress. While mom was in the ER, confused and replying "Uh huh! OK!" to everything anyone said to her, I thought it might be a good time to ask for a pony. If I can make jokes in the ER as my mom's life is beginning to end, I think I can pretty much handle anything.

Three people during the day came up to offer condolences. This is a new wrinkle, I hadn't considered, but I'm sure will be happening for a while now. Four people if you count the woman who was unlocking her bike at the same time as us and asked about my "I Hate Tumors" T-shirt. She asked how long ago mom died and when I said, "two weeks," she got 'the look' and came over to hug me. She lost her mom to lung cancer many years ago. It was such a Portland moment.

I had to call two people this week and tell them that mom died. One was her old boyfriend, a musician from the band Confunktion that she talked about several times over the years. I found his business card while going through her stuff and the number was still good. He had no idea of course and it was really a bummer to have to make the call. At first I thought he didn't remember her and then I remembered to say her maiden name, at which point he lit up (which only made the end message harder to say).

And today I called someone who knew mom from bringing her books at SEI. She'd left a recent message on the home phone, saying she was just checking in.

I hate making those calls.

Another weird thing when I'm having a pretty good day and I run into people who already know, but that I haven't seen since. They get that universal, 'yourmomdiedthatssoawful!' look and want to hug me. And sometimes I want to say, "Thanks but I'm having a pretty good day today, so let's not go there OK?" Of course I don't. And besides, good days can go so very bad, so very quickly.

Just more fun on this wacky grief trip I'm on.

Tonight I was feeling pretty good and offered to make Jess dinner since she worked a 12 hours shift and is always tired when she gets home. Nothing epic, just putting in the frozen pizza and sauteing a little spinach. Easy right?

Well, she came downstairs and found out the pizza was on a cookie sheet and wanted to take it off so the crust would get crispy. So we did that and she set the cookie sheet on the counter, then said, "Honey, don't touch that, it's hot." In normal times, I may have felt the comment to be a little condescending, but now, it's pretty much a good precautionary measure.

And it didn't even work. Not 2 minutes later, I put my hand right on the cookie sheet. I jerked it back immediately, even before the heat could register on my hand. Jess, concerned (and probably apalled) asked if I was OK.

"Yes, I'm not burned, I'm just stupid."

At that point, she kicked me out of the kitchen and said she'd finish cooking.

It was of course, the right call, but I immediately felt angry, upset, sad pathetic. I thought I was having a good day. I thought I could finally do one small thing to take care of my girlfriend, who has been supporting me unwaveringly for months now. But no, I'm just a danger to myself and others (and pizza).

Hello tears, where have been all this week?

And then I felt bad that her pizza was getting cold while she was busy comforting me. It's astonishing how much bad feeling there is to be found at every turn!

I also take the time to note how much work it is not to apologize all the time. It's one of my pet peeves, people who apologize when it's not warranted. And crying over your dead mother definitely falls into the category of things that don't require an apology. And yet I'm just so ingrained and trained that I have to actively stop myself from saying things like, "Sorry I'm such a basket case." DUH! Of course I'm a basket case.

It cracks me up that my brain finds the time to note these kinds of details in the middle of total trauma, but once a multitasker, always a multitasker I guess.

Tomorrow, I spend my first full day going through the house. No telling what shape I'll be in by the end of it...and it's only the beginning. If you have kids, do them a favor and don't be a pack rat.

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