If I’m being honest, I would tell you that the words “I’m sorry for your loss” aren’t helpful. I would tell you that they hurt more. I would tell you that I want to punch you when you say them to me.
If I’m being honest, I would talk about how hard it is when I hear my son talk about his Mom-Mom and how much he misses her, how he tells me that “I wish Mom-Mom didn’t have to die” over and over. I would tell you that he’s cried twice in the past 24 hours about her.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that when my mom went back in the hospital in May that my son was fully potty-trained, and suddenly, he wouldn’t stop wetting the bed at night. I would tell you that it is now the end of September, and the longest he’s gone at any one time is five days not wetting the bed. I would tell you that I’ve tried every tactic in the book to get him back on track, to help channel his grief in other ways, and that I feel absolutely helpless because nothing has worked. I’d tell you how shitty of a parent I am for not being able to help my kid.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that the week my mom died, I was on vacation with my fiancé and all I wanted was for him to leave, because I couldn’t handle being normal and I knew that this was not the vacation he wanted. I’d tell you that I tried anyway, and each night before bed, when he fell asleep, I’d go into the shower and cry until my eyes stopped making tears and my head wanted to explode.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you of the times during my three weeks in Europe after my mom passed that I got so drunk I either threw up or started crying hysterically. I’d tell you how I lost it in front of my mentor. I’d tell you how she found me standing in a windowsill daydreaming about walking the edge of the building across from me, wondering what it would feel like to fly for a moment and then fall. I’d tell you that I was holding a half full bottle of wine, one I was drinking straight from the bottle, and that when she asked me if I was okay, I let it all out and I wet her hair with my tears as she hugged me.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you before that, I went to a bar by myself and drank beer and didn’t feel so alone, because no one knew me and no one was looking at me like that.
If I’m being honest, whenever I learn of someone I know getting pregnant, I feel jealous before I feel happy, because they get to experience that with their mom, and I know how wonderful that is, but I also know I won’t get that chance again.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that the coworker complaining about how her mom wants to be in the delivery room makes me mad, because that was one of my mom’s wishes and I told her no. And to this day, I regret that answer more than you’d know.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that I’m mad, because I’m forgotten. I’d tell you that it hasn’t even been three months since my mom passed and everyone has forgotten my pain. I’d tell you that my fiancé and my friends expect me to be normal. I’d tell you that I don’t even know what normal is anymore. I’d tell you that just breathing feels hard.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that planning a wedding with my mom is the worst kind of torture there is. If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that although I say it’s because I want to lose weight first, the real reason I won’t go try on wedding dresses yet is because my mom won’t be there, and it makes my stomach do flips just thinking about that moment without her.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that I started taking my Klonopin again on occasions. I’d tell you that the panic attacks are back. I’d tell you I’m contemplating anti-depressants again, even though I’ve been off them since April—even though I went through hell every time I switched medication, trying to find the perfect fit.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that I don’t feel supported. I’d tell you that this hurts the most, that the people closest to me haven’t even asked me if I’m okay lately. I’d tell you that when they talk, I want to scream at them: JUST HUG ME. JUST ACT LIKE YOU REMEMBER THAT I’M NOT OKAY. But they don’t, and I don’t.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that I’m worried about my dad. I’d tell you that he got a tattoo and I don’t know what he does all day. I’d tell you that I want to hug him, but I’m scared he will cry, and I don’t want to give him another reason to cry.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that some days I want to disappear in a crowd. I’d tell you that I almost did once in Dublin, on Pattie’s birthday. I’d tell you about how I stopped walking, wondering if anyone would notice if I turned and disappeared into the busy street we’d come from. I’d tell you that Amy noticed right away and when she did, I burst into tears, and then Rena came up. And in a matter of moments, we were all crying and hugging and there was snot and mascara running and it was the first time since my mom had died that I felt comfort, and I wanted to never stop hugging them, because they were moms too. And they understood, even if for a moment, that my heart was in a million tiny pieces.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you I almost threw up when my boss put me on a study at work dealing with cancer patients who didn’t have much time left. I’d tell you I wanted to scream at her: Don’t do this to me! I can’t handle this yet!… but I handled it. I put on a brave face. And I felt sick the whole time.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that I need you. I’d tell you that I need her more. I’d tell you that from this point forward if I’m mad, I’m probably not mad for the reason you think I am. I’m probably mad that my mom isn’t on this planet and she should be.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you about all the times I’ve been hysterical, but especially earlier this week when my dad gave me a bag full of my mom’s old travel bags and when I opened one, a bunch of her tangerine lotion was in it and the smell of her made me double over in sadness.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that it hasn’t gotten better with time. I’d tell you that my relationships aren’t strong around me. I’d tell you that I have a strong desire to leave. I’d tell you that I don’t feel at home here anymore.
If I’m being honest, I’d tell you that if it weren’t for my son, I’d be gone, forgotten. I’d tell you I would have started over in a new place. I wouldn’t be able to tell you any of this… because I’d have a new life, one where it doesn’t hurt so bad… one where people understand my pain… one where, maybe, just maybe, I’m not reminded of my mom every five seconds and how she’s not here to hug me when I’m sad.
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