I talk about gratitude when I speak about mindfulness. This post is not about that. This post isn’t to help others, like most of posts. Not to educate, not to assist. It’s merely a journal entry about something that I’m dealing with and I don’t think putting it in my actual journal will be enough for me.
Recently, but too late, I found that my official second mother has been hospitalized, amidst COVID, for reasons I will not share because her family has a right to privacy too. The reason I refer to her as my “official second mother” is because, over the years, I’ve had so many “adopted moms”. When my family didn’t want me around and it was time to pack a garbage bag, those women became my “adopted moms”. Every job I ever had, I had an adopted mom and sometimes an adopted dad too. I got really good at creating families around me that wanted me because I sure as Hell didn’t feel wanted by my own.
I know that I could never repay any of those people along the way for the hope and love they showered upon me for, really, nothing in return, but I hope that maybe some of them know how they helped me grow and change. My official second mother is an angel without wings. She always seemed to fill in the holes that no one else seemed to notice or, maybe, care about. When I was the first to graduate from college on both sides of my family (about 70+ people or so), she organized a party with some other co-workers. My family did nothing to help, but she knew how important it was to me so she did something about it. To show my gratitude, as it was soon to be her birthday, I had a silver inscribed music box for her. It will never be enough. Ever.
When I moved away after my marriage and was abused and then returned like a scared cat, she sensed it, but no one else did. We went to dinner one evening and she shared her past with me. Later that night, I couldn’t understand why someone who had seemingly been kicked in the face by life so many times could still be grateful, Christian, and so loving. And I mean loving in the true sense of what a Christian should be. I’ve only met one other person like that and she stands as my best friend for life. She loved so hard, with so much empathy, that other people’s pain made her cry. From time to time, something bad would happen, and she couldn’t help but break down on the phone. In a way, it made me feel good that she could rid herself of that pain, even if just for a moment, because her strength needed to be preserved for her family.
I was driving that long hour home from work one night and she called with some news. You would’ve thought she’d gotten a new puppy by her upbeat tone. It was a rare form of cancer. “We’re gonna fight this thing”, she told me. I didn’t doubt her, but I sobbed like a baby, asked her why God would do that to her, and made a date to meet with her and her biological daughter for dinner. She couldn’t give me an answer about God, she could only tell me that she was going to beat this. Bone marrow rejection later, there is nothing left to do but take medications and stay as comfortable as possible. So here we are.
This bitch right here has continued to selfishly keep her distance because, lately, she can’t accept the fact that, someday soon, this beautiful angel would be joining the ranks in Heaven and finally get some well earned wings. I have been completely selfish and I missed every opportunity to possibly say just one more goodbye. I know she could pull through anytime and return home, but I’m the idiot who always knows first and is the last to actually accept. Always.
I have purposefully avoided FB because I didn’t want to see anything about her health deteriorating. I couldn’t take another phone call where she was talking about all of the ways people were still leaning so hard against here. But, mostly, I just couldn’t get through a conversation without bawling like a baby the entire time and I thought she deserved better. There’s not enough Klonopin in the world to keep that from happening so, I might’ve missed my chance. She is missed daily by me and no one else on this earth could ever compete for that spot.
I know I have written multiple blogs about the grieving process, which can begin at any time when someone has a an illness, however, giving advice and education is easier than doing it. You all know that. “Do as I say, not as I do”, that’s how most people raise their kids or else we wouldn’t say fuck in front of three year-olds. But, no matter how soon your grieving starts, it’s not a checklist, it’s a tornado that rips you around until you hit a tree. We all do it differently.
When I found out about official second mom’s diagnosis for the first time, I called my mom, who I lived two blocks away from, and told her I needed to see her now. She was waiting outside her apartment building when I got there, but it was at least ten minutes before I could even tell her what was happening. She was sympathetic, but very supportive too. As if it were nothing and we would beat this thing. I cried so hard that day. I’ve cried many times in my life, generally behind closed doors, but only a handful of times like that. The way it feels when a burning hand reaches up through your stomach to pull out your heart. Just like that.
I guess, part of my point is to say the things you need to say now, not think that the right time will come up. She knows without a doubt that I love her, but I haven’t said “thank you” or “you changed my life”. Say it all. Even if black mascara runs down your face and you snot all over the place, like me. (I don’t cry pretty.)
This last year, we cancelled Thanksgiving because of COVID, but we decided to have Christmas with immediate family. I love Christmas with my family. We put the “fun” in dysfunctional. And I just had some wine and hugged the fuck out of everyone I could. That’s another principle of mindfulness, I mean, not hugging people, but being present, in this moment only.
I miss my family. I miss seeing them without a reason. Just a barbeque. Seeing the kids. Whatever. I know that having a pre-existing condition with a lowered immune system and that puts me at a higher risk of getting COVID, but I just can’t keep living in the dark. I can’t stop the hurt and start healing until I change my behavior and learn to stop being a selfish bitch. Distancing yourself because of your own fears is bullshit. I slept in ICU with my Dad in a coma and I can’t make a tearful phone call? I’ve got to find a way past it.
Thank you for reading this very personal journal entry. Feel free to comment or complain.
**All pics are from FreePik or Adobe Stock and title page is designed using Canva.