It’s been 5 days since I dropped my English family off at Pensacola airport, with no concrete idea when I’ll see them again. It could be a year, or years. It was so healing to have my brother, sister in law and niece be here and see my life. Along with my step-dad, step-sister and step-niece, they travelled over 18 hours (including a redirected flight to Charlotte) to visit my much loved state.
We had the most incredible 2 week vacation down on 30a. There was sun, sea, and copious beers. There was laughter and love, and grief. This trip was one of my mum’s final wishes, it was her savings that paid for the beach cottage and for their flights. While we were all so grateful to finally be together, so blessed by the beautiful time we had.
We were very aware that we all got to be here, because she is not.
We talked about it once or twice. Mostly briefly. How in the midst of a beautiful vacation do you bring that up?
The hardest thing about dealing with grief is that very few people know exactly how you feel. It was good for my soul, to know I was not alone. My (brand-new) sister-in-law lost her father suddenly 10 years ago. I am so grateful for her support of my brother, as she does know exactly how it feels. She understands that integral part of you that is now missing. And she understands that there is really nothing you can do about it.
Daily, I find myself thinking “I should tell my mum…” or “I can’t wait to talk to her about…” The mundane talking about fitting flooring sounds like the most exciting conversation with my mum, until I realize that she’s not here.
My trainer summed it up perfectly when she said “it’s like your heart and your head never really connect.”
She’s gone. And I know. But I don’t think my heart and my soul will ever really accept it. Because it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that she can’t be here with me. It doesn’t make sense that she wasn’t allowed to experience the glorious last 2 weeks with us.
Again, I find myself in deep deep guilt. Something I may start calling “griever’s guilt”.
Guilty, because I am so blessed. Guilty, because we had the most amazing vacation. Guilty, because my life is a literal dream. Guilty, because it will never be enough to fill the hole that was left when I lost her.
I am so proud of my family and how we have dealt with her loss. But we have reacted exactly as she taught us. My mum was very much about you must “keep on keeping on”. What other choice do we really have? As my brother put it, “we are testament to how she raised us because we’ve all coped so well.” And we have, in public. We get up, brush our teeth, eat breakfast, paint on a smile and go to work. We go to events. We hang out with friends. We laugh. Then we cry on the way home, or at least I do.
My grief is bittersweet because my mum was everything I am. She was my strength and my softness. She shaped my heart and soul. She encouraged me to travel the world and to feel. If I had the opportunity to weaken our relationship but have her longer, I’m not sure I would. Our bond was the sweetest thing I will ever know until I can create that bond with my own babies. The strength of my family was forged in our shared loss.
I don’t really know where I’m heading here. But I am blessed and I am broken. And I wonder if it ever gets better?