Years Of Tears
28 July 2009
This post is going to be about something that very few people will relate to, unless you were a little girl whose mother died too young. It's mostly a post for me, to get the feelings out, since they've been holding me down and rendering me useless. I'm sans therapist right now, so... here we are.
Speaking of therapists, I've been considering going back to my old therapist, Jeff. If you were there, oh... 3-3½ years go, you might remember that things didn't end on a good note with him. In short, I hadn't seen him in a while because I'd been doing well, until one of my then-close friends said, "When are you going to get over the dead baby thing?" at which point, I needed him badly. He never called me back, and I was desperate. It was a bad time. Another thing that might be hard for the non-bereaved to understand.
So I thought about extending the olive branch to Jeff, because he was really great for me, but I'm torn. On the one hand, I seriously do not want to give the whole of my life story to yet another therapist who may or may not end up working out, but on other hand, there was that whole drama. I just don't know what to do.
I'm turning 33 in just over a month. Every time I think about that number, I fall to pieces. I've been anticipating this birthday for 25 years, since I was seven. Now it's here, and I'm absolutely crumbling.
One April Friday in 1984, my mother came home from work, exhausted. She went to bed. She stayed in bed all day Saturday and Sunday, she did not really wake up. By Monday morning, she was dead.
There are so many "why"s that can never really be answered, and of course, this was a pivotal event in my life. We were Christian Scientists (which I always explain is not the cultish Scientology at all), which my dad still is, so we didn't go to doctors. But if your beloved spouse fell into a coma, even for one day, and you had two young children, mightn't you think about getting her to a hospital this one time? And why did my dad not let me get her a glass of water when she begged me for one, since she was so thirsty? I remember him saying something about her having enough to drink. Why??
And please, if you ever have to explain death to a child, do not tell them that their mommy/daddy/anyone "went for a walk with God." I spent a year sitting on the porch, waiting for my mother to come back from her walk.
And please, if that person is autopsied and the cause of death comes back to be untreated diabetes -or whatever - talk about it with that child. Tell them. Do not let them spend years wondering what the hell happened to her. It's much easier and kinder to the child to tell them the truth about these matters.
I spent my childhood - and I still, in my heart of hearts, harbor the fantasy - thinking that my Mom had just left us to live another life somewhere. That she'd grown tired of us but would come back one day. I used to think the school bus would stop in front of my house, and there she would be, in the middle of the road with her arms outstretched, waiting to embrace me and be my mommy again.
Mom was 33 when she died suddenly. Ever since, I have been convinced that the same thing is going to happen to me. I'll turn 33, and two months later, I'll be dead. It doesn't matter that it's not rational. It doesn't matter at all. It's what bereaved children often believe, and I know because I researched extensively into the subject for my child psych class in college. (I think I was supposed to do an 8-page paper and turned in a 40-pager...) I gave the paper to my sister as a gift that Christmas, and she cried and thanked me for validating the same thoughts, fears and feelings she'd always had but never discussed with me. It was amazing.
On Halloween of this year, I will have lived longer than my mother did.
It's crazy, absolutely crazy. At seven, and 17, and 27, 33 seems old enough. And definitely far away. At 30, things start to become more real, more immediate.
And now the time is here, and I realize that 33 is not old at all. Oh, God, no. I still feel like a kid. At least a college student! It's impossibly unfair; I still have my whole life stretched before me, to grow up my children and see their children and maybe theirs. To accomplish all the things still left on my bucket list. How can I be 33? How can the end of my life be near? I just learned to drive five minutes ago! I just graduated!
Imagine what it must have been like to be lying in bed, possibly aware that you were about to die, and you had 7- and 8-year-old daughters in the next rooms. Unaware that the most important and loving human being in their lives was about to be taken away, forever. She was a good - no, a great - mom, and that must have torn her to shreds if she was cognizant of it. I'm praying now that she wasn't.
Thirty-Three. Much too young.