March 16th marked 18 months from the date my mom lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. I spent the day coping with the PTSD that comes with watching a parent decline–rapidly–and pass away–in 4 months.
My mom’s 67th birthday should be on March 31st. Instead of spending time with my mom and celebrating with her, I will visit her grave site, spend a little time chatting, give her some flowers, and go home. It just isn’t the same.
Earlier this month, as I struggled with my grief and the obligations of being a parent, my dad threw a zinger at us. He wanted to have all of us (us being my 2 sisters and their husbands and Hubz and I and the boys) come to his country club for Easter Brunch….to meet his girlfriend’s 3 daughters and their families. Every alarm in every fiber of my being went off….right or wrong…this was a step that I was NOT ready to make.
Is my dad’s girlfriend a godsend to him? Yes. Is she a sweet, caring person? Yes. Have I embraced her as a mainstay at family functions? For the most part. However, as I find the second holidays without my mom to be more of a struggle to get through than the first were (I don’t even remember Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2010…I have to rely on pictures to fill in the gaps.), I just couldn’t meet these 3 women. Not this way. Not now. (And please don’t get me started on the fact that I usually host Easter…
When my dad pushed for an answer, I was truthful I said I would love (ok, love may be a strong word) to meet his girlfriend’s daughters, but with the 2nd holidays without Mom hitting me so hard emotionally, AND adding on the challenges of coping with my own emotions and the difficulties Tate has with big gatherings, new people, and unfamiliar settings, I just. Wasn’t. Comfortable. But, I knew it meant a lot to him, so I would go…
That night I dreamed of my mom. She and I were going to a wedding. We were walking in front of my dad, and I was mortified because he was texting his girlfriend–in.front.of.my.mom! *gasp* I looked at my mom. She was glowing (not in a creepy-ghost way..but in a healthy-happy-content way). I asked if she was upset. She smiled, and said she wasn’t…and “you know your dad…” I woke up. I felt a sense of calm…like she was ok with it, so I should be.
My dad texted me that day. The whole thing fell apart. He never reserved the room to house all of us, and with only 3 weeks until Easter, someone else had reserved it already. Cue exhale….sshhhheeewwwwww…..
During this time I also was preparing to send out invitations to my youngest sister’s baby shower. Another reminder of Mom’s absence and the abyss it has created in my life. During “The Year of the Wedding” she and I kept each other sane. When my sister got all bridezilla, Mom got through the bride-to-be fuzz. She “kept it real”, if you know what I mean.
As only my drama-loving sister can, she got a little, um, demanding with her “must-haves” for the baby shower. I was frazzled. It wasn’t fun anymore. I.was.freaking.out.
Then, I had a dream. My mom was there. She greeted me with a huge hug and gave her “signature” back scratch with it. I felt at ease. Calm. In the dream, my mom and I were going on a trip, and I was so worried about logistics and the kids. She told me I would be fine, they would be fine, and she said that I could handle any obstacles in my way. I woke up with a smile. And I felt ok about the shower stuff. I could breathe again.
My other sister and I made our game plan, and figured out the shower. Our expectant sister calmed down once we confirmed her cake was on order from the bakery she
deemed worthy suggested. All was right with the world.
As I process through this difficult month, I have continued to have dreams about my mom. Most of them are good…and most of them convince me that she is present…even if I can’t see, hold, or talk to her.