Monday, May 27, 2019

New Worlds: The 1 year anniversary of Mom's death

A year ago today my mom died. 14 years after the first inklings of the disease, almost exactly 10 years after official diagnosis, 9 years after the major decline began and 4 years after moving into Yaletown House.

People keep asking me how life is now, without my mom. And honestly? I feel relief. And at times I feel badly for that. But really, what’s true is that it’s not relief that Robin Mitchell has died. It’s relief that the illness part of my mom’s journey is over. That, that exhausting season of my life, is over. That is all still true a year later. The first Christmas without my mom was so great because I didn’t have this raging guilt inside me for wanting to be cozy in my home with loved ones while she was alone in a hospital bed. The first Mothers Day without my mom was actually about me! I got to sleep in and nap twice! We wandered down to the river with my sister, our kids, and a picnic. Our timeline, our plans, no guilt. Lots of toddlers, but no guilt.

Today to honor my mom, my Dad, Dee (his new wife), and Jenna came over. We talked about the different ways we were processing or marking the day (mine being that I would sit and blog later to work through my feelings). Jenna brought purple flower helium balloons for the toddlers (my mom loved purple and flowers). We had a beautiful time of talking and reminiscing. We talked about grief, and relief and moving on. Dee shared about her journey with her husband’s passing. The sun was shining and it felt like we were healing. I am so thankful that we are able to heal now – the illness felt like an exposed wound, never able to heal. The grief that comes with mom’s passing has been hard, but it’s a part of the process and I can see how much more whole I am a year later. More fragile than before, but also more myself.

Yesterday a few of my Mom’s cousins came over (2 from England, 1 from Victoria) and it was a great excuse to get the house tidy. Seriously, that’s my life hack, and part of why we have people over, it forces me to stay tidy! I need external motivation, and as a social person, that’s wonderfully motivation enough. But this time the cleaning felt a bit more important, a bit manic almost. I realized suddenly that there was so much emotion for me around this visit because Mom would have loved to be there seeing her cousins with her grandbabies and would have been so proud of the home I’ve made and that I felt that it all needed to be perfect, so I could properly represent us, since she wasn’t there to represent herself. In a way to say, look how well my Mom did, she made us and parented us, and we’re doing great. That’s way too much expectation to put on any visit! Thankfully the cousins were so delightful, and Mom would have been delighted to be there, even if the laundry hadn’t been flipped or dishwasher unloaded. It’s funny though, in a moment, we can realize how our emotions or motivations are never as simple as we think.

I don’t remember what it was like to hang out with my mom before the sickness stole so much. I have picture proof that in my late teens and early to mid-twenties we hung out and hung out often. I can see that we laughed and cooked and played games. I don’t remember what that was like. I remember so much about our trip to Europe the summer we began to notice her disease (just small little things) and yet I don’t remember what it was like to be with her on the trip! I mean, I remember when she forced us to try to trick Dad into eating a slimy double-fish sandwich. I remember how we paid her 10 euro each just to leave the boring tour of Versaille (after hours already being there), and how annoyed she was about us leaving. I remember how beautifully she planned this trip – with things each of us would love. I remember how hard we all laughed together at 6am at the start of our trip when we saw a sign that was supposed to say “step over sill” but someone had added a y, so it said “step over silly” and it made us giggle for hours….heck, I still giggle about it. I remember near the end of our trip, after days and days of castles and museums, more than any 19 & 21 year old would pick to see, when we saw a sign for a music museum in Venice and Mom suggested we go in, we all put our collective foot down to which she said in frustration, “I went to all the museums YOU wanted to go to” as if the many museums weren’t already for her! There is this picture of us though, eating spƤtzle at a tiny walled city, laughing and talking and this picture haunts me because I don’t remember what it was like to be with her there. I can’t recall her table habits or her style of conversation. I don’t know what we would have talked about. I wish I knew.

I miss Robin. I miss having a Mom. I have so many women in my life who play a mothering role in my life but that isn’t quite the same as having my own mom. I wish I had a date to mark when she left us, to mourn her; when my relationship with her switched from her being my mom to me being the mom/support/adult. I suppose that is what I can mark this date with each year. To make this the moment to commemorate all that she was, as well as to grieve what was lost. And to be glad she is no longer living in sickness but is free. Finally. And in the midst of all the feelings, I'm eternally grateful for these kids who don't give me a chance to dwell on hard things. They bring joy and love and cuddles. They are forgiving and hilarious. Snotty, and yet so sweet. These kids are a gift in the midst of a tough season. 

With this I close for the moment – Paul’s kept my kids happy for the past 2 hours so I could process all this and write and pray and think, but the kids are getting restless and nearing bedtime and I should probably go help my awesome husband out. More to come tomorrow…the floodgates aren’t quite closed back up again and I can sense that there is more here.

1 comment:

Leanne Friesen said...

Beautiful, as tears fall down my face, I also wish I knew her better. The hope and joy I hold is to know her fully for millennia to come. I remember asking her before she passed to hold my grand baby for me. Somehow I know she will sing to him, and my tears are bittersweet. Thanks for the beautiful mom you shared with us. Reunion will be very sweet.


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