waiting on the front porch

she just stood there on the front porch waiting for her will to come and get her she was packed she had a suitcase full of noble intentions she had a map and a straight face hell bent on reinvention she was learning about please and huge humilities then one day she looked around her and everything up til then was showing and she wondered how did i get here without even knowing where i was going? ~ani difranco

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Location: montreal, quebec, Canada


Friday, October 13, 2006

wow, do i ever need to break out of my own head.

sometimes living here can be this comfortable blanket of emotion that i can just pick at and unravel for hours, days, weeks, months. years, even. the yarn is pretty, mind, but i never seem to find the source, and then all of a sudden i look up and so much time has passed and i'm sitting on the floor in a strait-jacket of my own making.

it's funny because when i was first emerging from my alcohol-soaked grief a few years ago, that was the advice that i was being given: to really examine my motives behind the partying, to turn and face my fears, name them, and send them away.

so that is what i tried to do. i had just turned 18 when my mother first got sick - a full 10 years ago now. i remember exactly where i was sitting when she told us, i remember being embarrassed by her tears. i think, up until that point, i had only ever seen my mother cry once before.

i was not a good daughter to her then. i was angry at the cancer, angry at her for getting it, and all i wanted to do was forget anything was happening and for life to go back to normal. i drank, smoked, and skipped school and generally got away with a hell of a lot because my principal knew about the situation and understood.

there were grace periods in all of this. in 3 years my mother had 3 different occurrences of cancer, which meant 2 remissions. we all got better at being supportive of one another: banane and i went to the radiotherapy lab with her once, she let us see her mastectomy scars in the bath. the last time she was sick i found her in her bedroom sobbing and i was able to hold her like a baby and tell her everything was going to be okay.

it is really hard to say goodbye; i still have to do it every day. there's a lot of me that is forgetting what it's like - to have a family, to have that closeness. my life today is a lot different than it was. there is also a smaller part, buried deeper, that is wistful and remembers. this is the part that reaches for the phone first thing in the morning, expecting her call. this is the part who misses all the goofy things she used to do for us, like how she sent me a card every day i was away at overnight camp, for two weeks straight. how she used to give us presents on her birthday. she knew me and what i needed better than anybody.

why is it that i think one hug from her, the one thing i can never have, would fix everything?

after she died i asked the universe to let me dream with her. to let us meet together when i fell asleep and just let us visit. maybe it's because i want it too much but it hasn't happened yet.

everybody that i talk to says that there is no tidy way to deal with grief, that it is circular and spirals around in unpredictable ways. they say to be patient, that i'm dealing with so many things, to be gentle and let it come.
it feels like i have been, and there's no end. i want to let it go. this is what i've been figuring out how to do, trying to teach myself. for a long time i held onto the grief, thinking that it was somehow dishonouring to her if i stopped. now i see how i was wrong - she would have wanted me to live. to suck the marrow out of life and laugh and be happy and stable with myself. with my self.
tonight, because it's friday the 13th and that's always been such a special day for me, i'm going to come home and write words on a piece of paper. write down everything i can think of that i need to say goodbye to. and then i'm going to burn the paper, and watch the ashes float away on the night air.


Blogger Deb R said...

How long has your mom been gone? Mine's been gone almost 5 years (it'll be 5 next month) and I still miss her in very much the same ways you talk about. I think no matter what your age, you're always too young to lose your mother.

FWIW, I think if you stay open to seeing her in dreams (maybe even say that out loud sometimes before falling asleep at night) that sooner or later it'll happen. I've had some mom visit dreams. Not many, but I treasure the ones I've had.

Grief, well...grief just takes as long as it takes and that's different for everyone.

I think your paper-burning ceremony is an excellent idea. I've done something similar from time to time and it feels very freeing.

9:44 a.m.  
Blogger Spiky Zora Jones said...

Uumm, hi Bee. you send many strong images. I miss my mother so very much. She was beautiful and fun. I'm sad. I hurt for you and for me. I remember everything about her.

11:00 a.m.  
Blogger megg said...

I'll close my eyes and wish you peace in your ceremony tonight. I don't know what to say to make it better - just know that I heard you.


11:48 a.m.  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Oh baby doll-
this touched me-I had such a similar reaction when my mom was diagnosed.

I am still in thethick of it too at times. I have relief, I do, and I appreciate her more, love her more, empathize with her more, but I still miss her the same.

Hugs and love to you.

I think what you plan to do will be a very strong symbolic gesture. You know what you need to do in your heart.


12:24 p.m.  
Blogger Scott said...

Great words bee... so important to talk about your Mom in those terms and recognize where you were at when she was ill.

Love the paper burning idea... very touching.


1:06 p.m.  
Blogger bee said...

thank you so much everybody. i really appreciate the kind thoughts and energy...it's funny. i think that i should "be over it" somehow but really, i agree with you, deb, when you say "grief just takes as long as it takes".

it doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing, either. it can be very empowering.

3:23 p.m.  
Blogger Meg said...

I admire you wholeheartedly, Bee. You are a beautiful person.

3:47 p.m.  
Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

Bee ~ oh my god, I'm balling right now. A huge part of me wants to reach into this screen and grab you out of it and give you that "Mommy" kind of hug that does make everything feel better. And that is what you are mourning, her touch, smell, safety...mom's do that to us. I'm sorry honey, really really sorry.

I am very close to my 22 year old daughter and my illness scares the crap out of her. She has sobbed at my feet on my worst days and begged me not to die. I can't tell her that I won't, so I don't say anything, but I love you and she just sobs harder.

Bee ~ you have to make it, you have to find your vision and hang on tooth and nail. You have to be happy and go on with your life. Do it for yourself, do it for her and do it for me. I have to know that my daughter will live after I am gone and not waste her life mourning my absence. That would crush my heart, I would stay alive and suffer deep pain before watching my girl waste her life...fight hard Bee...fight

I love you, dear one, no more crying, no more fears....live with gusto like she would want you to.

with tender love,

5:11 p.m.  
Blogger ruby said...

you are so beautiful and strong. i wish i could give you a big hug.

8:45 p.m.  
Blogger Jessie said...

i'm sending my love to you, bee. lots of love to help you get through the hard parts.
hugs (big, fat, uplifting hugs),

8:48 p.m.  
Anonymous jeannette* said...

this has brought me to tears. Such courage and strength. and such a beautiful testament to your mom.

9:33 p.m.  
Blogger Turquoise CRO said...

I'm sorry Bee, YOU and your mom will be in my prayers tonight...***Sweet Dreams***

12:01 a.m.  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

i do hope you have that dream soon...and in that dream, she rocks you in her arms to sooth the pain, just like you need.

you sound so very strong on this journey of grief. your heart sounds open to the growth that is transpiring within you. you're right...she would want you to suck the marrow out of life and i sense that you are doing just that, lovely you.

there are so many souls in this blog tribe that resonate with grief on different levels. we are all angels for one another. feel them circling around you. you are not alone on this journey.

bless you and your heart and your willingness to allow others to be inspired by your story.

thank you for sharing...


12:43 a.m.  
Blogger Claire said...

This is beautiful, sweetheart. You are so brave, and honest, and it it awe-inspiring to see you work out things through your writing. I hope the ceremony went well, and I pray that you will dream of your mum soon, as soon as you, she, and the universe are ready.

I wish I could give you a hug!


2:30 a.m.  
Blogger Susannah said...

my darling friend, i understand about wanting the dreams - i think in 20 months i've only had 4 of them, and it's so frustrating. yet when i had them, waking up was unbearable... we don't get over grief, we just find new and more inventive ways to live with it, to live with the unacceptable

my therapist has suggested i try writing a letter to him, to help with saying goodbye, but i haven't been able to... you inspire me to maybe give it a go

sending all my love to you, sweet Bee xoxox

3:29 a.m.  
Blogger nosthegametoo said...

I'm not so sure we find solutions to our problem, but rather, we probably make them.

Wish I had some advice or learned words to share, but I can indentify... I truly can.

Peace and Love

2:55 p.m.  
Blogger Hulles said...

Thanks for posting this. My little brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months ago; we're really close and I'm having trouble coming to grips with the whole thing. That is, incidentally, why I started blogging a couple months ago -- to just have a way to express myself, even if I don't address the situation in my blog (it's mostly stuff I think is funny). But your entry made me look at myself a little more closely.

I already read your later entry where you report that you did burn the paper. Good work; I'm proud of you even if I don't know you.

11:56 a.m.  

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