Friday, February 12, 2010

Does It Show?

I would like to thank everyone for their loving support, kindness, and compassion after the death of my beloved mother, Anne, on January 30, 2010. Mom passed away quietly, with my brother David and his wife, by her side. She finally succumbed to the effects of her stroke back in May, and the pulmonary fibrosis that ended her life too soon for us. This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom, and one of hers, as well. She was 28 years younger than her mother, and I am 28 years younger than Mom. To say we favor one another is an understatement, though I was never as beautiful as my mother is in this photo, that's for sure. Even still, Mom's outward beauty was nothing compared to her inner beauty, the loving graciousness with which she lived her life; the welcome she gave to one and all; the lessons she taught us about how to treat others, regardless of race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation; the day-to-day considerations in the home, like how to make biscuits, even giving me a little bottle cap to make my own when I was a small child "helping" Mom in the kitchen; a tremendous love for animals that she embodied, a gene for it, really, which I carry in me, as well; and a thirst for knowledge, evidenced by my mother's avid reading. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

And honestly, I am not as prepared to write this as I thought. That is to say, it is even harder to write about Mom now, two weeks later, than I thought it would be.

So, that is why I have been away from the blog. And I have been away from home, too, to my hometown, then to Aruba, with my partner and one of my best friends, on a long-ago planned trip, and what turned out to be a well-timed trip. We had time to help plan the funeral (Thursday, the 18th), meet with the funeral home as a family, pick out the urn, the flowers, meet with the priest to plan the funeral, all of that, before we left. The trip enabled me to be away from the usual daily duties and truly reflect on my mom, her life, what she means to me as well as others, and to erect three Remembrance rock piles around Aruba in her honor, joining others who have gone before her. While having the time to reflect, and grieve, in a beautiful country, surrounded by gorgeous waters, was a blessing, it did not minimize the times I was struck with the force of this loss. Nothing could prevent that, of course, as that is the way of such a loss.

I know that many, many others have experienced what I am going through now, and recall a woman I knew years ago, who reflected on her own experience of losing her mother. She recounted the story of having to go buy a new pair of shoes for the funeral, and wondering, as people were around her, fellow customers and salesclerks alike, if they could tell, if it showed, that she was in tremendous grief and pain. This came up for me often (and will again, I am sure, when I have to go shopping for a new suit this weekend) as I went out, from the meeting for the funeral preparation, or out to dinner, or to the airport, people not knowing, not realizing, how much pain I was in, or the overwhelming sadness I was experiencing, my partner, too, for Mom was like a mother to her, and to so many others...

It is a sad commentary on our culture that we no longer display the traditional signs of mourning. We no longer wear all black, or rend a piece of our clothing, so others can see at a glance that we are hurting, grieving, and need to be treated gently, and with kindness. Even the priest who will be performing the funeral greeted us with a cheery, "Hey, how's everyone doing today?" Well, um, we just lost our mother and are here to plan her funeral - how do you THINK we are doing today? How is it that we have so distanced ourselves from what is a fact of our very humanity, that we will, each one of us, leave this earth?

And then there is the push to just move on, get past it, get on with our lives that seems to happen. I noticed it when I lost my father 4 1/2 years ago, and my uncle, who lost his wife to cancer (though she was about 25 years his junior) remarked on it, that people think one should just move on, stop dwelling, and get over it already.

Well, I believe that shortchanging ourselves on the process upfront will just come back to haunt us down the road (not in a ghost haunting kind of way, but emotional baggage kind of way). We need to be able to grieve our loss, to mourn, to have the space to just cry, and feel our loss, before "moving on," at least that's what I think.

All of that is to say, I am not quite ready yet to come back to write my usual political posts - I am still too raw, still not ready to engage in that kind of banter. There will be time enough for that soon enough, though I imagine it will be after my mother's funeral next week.

In the meantime, thank you all again so very, very much for your support and love during this difficult, painful time. It means more to me than I can possibly say.

18 comments:

Nellie said...

Amy,

It is wonderful you were able to be in such a beautiful place as Aruba. I am sure the beauty and serenity of nature helped distance, but alleviate your tremendous sense of loss.

Your mother truly was a beautiful person; both to look at, and from what you tell us, to be with as her inner light also glowed brightly.

I agree. Take what time you need to grieve. I did not when my father passed away, and it is now almost 5 years later, and I am noticing the emotional damage I did to myself, as well as those arund me by trying to close off the grief and "move on with life".

You, who have given so much to so many, have earned, a thousand times over, the right to time to take care of your own needs.

If there is every anything I can do, please do not hestitate to contact me via of email.

May the peace of the outer universe help heal your inner universe.

Suzy said...

A beautiful and fitting tribute. I miss her more than I ever could have imagined ... she was the mother I always wished for and never thought I would find.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Nellie -

Thank you so much. The natural beauty of the island did help a lot, though Mom was never far from my thoughts, hence the Remembrances around the island.

And thank you - I appreciate your kind remarks abt Mom, Nellie.

I am sorry to hear abt the loss of your father. I hope that you are able to take some time for the healing of your heart, too.

What a lovely thing to say, Nellie, abt my taking some time. That is very sweet of you. Thanks so much.

I really appreciate your comment. Thanks!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks, Suzy. As you know, Mom adored you. She definitely saw you as another daughter, and was glad to have you in the family.

Amarissa said...

Beautiful words and a great tribute to your mom. Although we miss your smart posts, we understand the sad moment you are going through.

We will read you again as soon as you are ready. Very sorry again, for your loss.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Amarissa, thank you so much. I appreciate your support, both for this time in my life, and for your interest in my posts. That means so much to me.

I will be back relatively soon, though - I promise.

Connie said...

Another moving tribute. Thinking of you often.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks, Connie - that means a lot to me...

insightanalytical said...

So sorry to hear of your loss! My 88 year old mother is in decline and I appreciate your loss.

Mary Ellen said...

Amy-

Oh dear, there is no hurry to get back. You can't cut short your grief period, it will fulfill itself in due time. I tried to do that when my father passed and one year later, I totally fell apart. No one can put off grieving...it will be finished in due time.

The numbness and overwhelming heart-ache will heal, and when it does you will be left with all those wonderful memories of your mom and those memories will come with smiles only. Your mom is so incredibly beautiful and from what it sounds like, she knew how to share her joy and beauty to those she loved. That's such a special gift. I'm sure that God has already told her..."Well done, good and faithful servant." And know she's in heaven sharing her beautiful soul with all those who have done before her.

I hope you get a chance to visit Aruba again during a happier time in your life.

In the meantime, my prayers are with you, as they have been since your mom passed.

Don't worry about your blog for awhile. Politics are like soap operas...you can stop watching them for months and find that you've missed nothing. It's the same old same old.

Hang in there, kiddo.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Insightanalytical, I am so sorry to hear abt your mother's decline. It is so hard to watch, isn't it? I am so thankful that when my mom's brother was visiting a few weeks ago, we went up, with Mom's dog (whom I have) to see her. We were able to spend some big blocks of time with her...

And I was struck by the role reversal - me feeding her, brushing her hair for her, things like that...

Thank you...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen, thanks so much for your kind and loving words. I really appreciate it. And you have been a model for me of self-care when it comes to blogs. When I think I need to get back, I remember you taking the time you needed to take care of situations that arose. You are a great role model, friend!

What a lovely thing to say abt Mom. When we were driving in Aruba, we saw a bunch of goats (they are everywhere). It reminded me of Mom saying she didn't want to be a seep, and sit on the right hand of God, because sheep are dumb. She'd rather be a goat and sit on the left side. :-) That's my mom.

It was those kinds of memories that would just come flooding back to me when I was gone (thankfully, we are going back in July to take our godson for his graduation present, returning a week or so before he enlists in the Marines - his choice, even though he has great grades and is on a bunch of sports teams. He feels he needs the discipline...). And we can go back and see the rock piles we put up for Mom.

Indeed, there is such a rush to get past this grieving stage. I don't know abt you, but it is just amazing the things that can hit me like a ton of bricks. Time is what it takes, to be sure. I know you are right, ME - in time, it will be smiles and laughter, and not crying (I can't even respond to these comments without getting teary).

What a great group of people who come by this little blog. I am so lucky...

I actually will be putting up something in a little while, but it is NOT abt politics. You are SO right abt politics being like a soap opera - another good lesson to remember.

Thanks, friend.

SFIndie said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom, Rev. (Suzy, she sounds like the mother I would have loved to have had, as well!)

There will always be so much that will remind you of your mom, Rev, and as time goes by the pain will become less and the pleasure in the memory becomes more.

Even now, 6 months after my mom's passing, my sister and I both have those moments when we'll see something and think, "oh, I should pick that up for mom" and then realize... oops! It's only been a few weeks for you, be gentle with yourself.

Everyone does experience the loss of a parent in different ways. My sister, youngest of the 5 of us, hugged us all at my mom's funeral and said in tears, "We're orphans now". She's in her early 50s, and yet the loss of the 2nd parent shook her to the core.

You're so right that in our society we're told to "buck up and get over it, it's time." Bullcrap. My father died 37 years ago, and a day doesn't go by that he doesn't cross my mind. And sometimes I cry, and sometimes I get angry that I never had the chance to know him adult-to-adult.

We have to take the time to grieve our losses. If we don't, the unexpressed sorrow will eat away at us. And we have to take as much time as we need, be it 6 months or 6 years. There's no "it's been long enough". There's only what we need.

As for jumping back in the political fray...well, sad to say there will always be something to blog about. So, until the time feels right, just let the nonsense play on.

What's more important is that all of us are sharing in the joy of the memories of your beloved mother, and the sorrow of her loss, and we're here to accompany you on your journey to healing, however that shows up.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SFIndie,

Beautifully said, friend. Truly. And I very much appreciate your sharing your own experiences as well.

I can't believe it has only/already been six months since you lost your mother, SF. I can well imagine you and your sister thinking of things to pick up for your mom - that happened the whole time I was in Aruba. I can't believe I can't just pick up the phone and call Mom to tell her abt something I think she'd find interesting. I can't believe I won't hear her voice again, except what I remember it sounding like. I can't believe she's gone...

And your dad - wow, you must have been (fairly) young when you lost him. I can so understand your wishing you could have known him adult-to-adult. I am certain that, without knowing him, of course, he would have been very proud of the woman you are. You are a gem, SF, kind, compassionate, and funny as hell - how could he not be proud to have a daughter like you?

And you are so right - each family member grew up in a different family, though I can appreciate your sister's response. The thought crossed my mind, too, that we no longer have our parents (I am the 4th out of 5 - the only planned child, I might add. :-D ).

Thank you, SF, for your response to Suzy, too. I just found out from the younger sister of my former sister-in-law (we are still friends, btw) that my parents let her stay with them for a month when she was waiting for a semester to start while in college. Who knew?? I was in college (or grad school) myself, so I didn't know...I know it was Mom's doing, though - that's just how she was. Everyone was welcome.

I wish you could have known her. And I wish I could have known the woman who reared you, too, SFIndie...

linda anselmi said...

It has become almost a weekly occurrence to learn of another friend or family member who has lost a parent. It is the cycle of life and to be expected, but that doesn't make it necessarily easier. A parent is such an anchor to ones life in so many ways - even after we reach adulthood, even as they age and decline in health. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of the wonder and beauty that was your mother. And thank you also for sharing some of your own pain at her Passing. It is not something easily put into words.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks so much, Linda. I have thought of you and your husband's loss often as I have gone through this uncharted path...There really is nothing like this in terms of loss, that's for sure. An "anchor" is an excellent way to describe the effect of a mother (or parent) in one's life. Well said.

I appreciate your warm words, Linda. Thank you...

nazareth priest said...

A very belated wish of condolences to you on the death of your dear Mom.
You have been in my thoughts and prayers.
If it is any consolation, a prayer we say in the Mass for Christian Burial in the Catholic Church is "life is not ended; it is merely changed."
That brings consolation to me in remembrance of my beloved dead. I hope it will bring some consolation to you.
Blessings.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thank you so much, Nazareth Priest - I appreciate it. Mom's interment and funeral were lovely, though I cried throughout both. Still, the homily by the priest (Episcopal) was well done, and he included a number of things we told him abt Mom, including that she had an open heart - which she truly did.

Thanks again...