I came to Panera to write about muffins. Not because they sell them but because I have a lot to say about muffins and I like Panera's french onion soup. I have so many things to say about those baked mushroom shaped atrocities, but it doesn't feel right. Not quite yet. I wrote one post about losing my mother and then didn't write at all for over a week. In that week I have felt a wide range of emotions and for me to keep writing I think I need to settle with some of those first. Pressure- My life lately has been defined by me trying to figure myself out and make everyone proud. When my mom was alive I told her about everything I was doing (and not doing) and it was always in the form of my truth. In reality I can admit that my truth isn't always the actual truth but it is impossible sometimes to see what is real. I could tell her that I spent too long in bed watching television but that I finally got up and ran errands. This was never untrue, but those errands might have been buying a new dress at Target, browsing shoes as DSW and getting cat food for my kitties who had been eating the last of my tuna for two days prior. The story I told her implied that I had actually accomplished something that day, when in fact I barely did. She would always say to me, "At least you got up Samantha. I know you're struggling right now, but getting up is the first step every day. I never worry about you; I know you'll be great."
Now that she is gone I have this thought that she can see me and my half truths about my less successful days are revealed. When I go for a run I have to run faster; when I sit down to write I have to spend more time. The other day I even became conscious of staying on the potty too long while playing games. The next day a friend sent me a comic that read, "Ghosts can watch you poop" and it felt like more than a coincidence, it seemed like a sign.
Pride- Many of my days are as productive as I aim for them to be and in those times I feel like I am becoming the person I want to be. On these days I feel her with me and in the place of a hug from her I now have the feeling like my whole self is consumed with her love. I don't run faster because I feel I have to in order to impress her, I do it because she makes me feel like I can.
Capability- My mother was the person in my life who validated everything I did. Her demonstrative nature was my safety net and I never needed to self-validate because hearing it from her meant so much more. Now that I can't hear her voice I have been thinking her thoughts and feeling her praise. Maybe that is her, or maybe I knew her so well that she is now a part of me that can be confident, capable and self-affirming.
Denial- I know about the stages of grief, but everything feels muddled when I'm going through all this so it is hard to pick them out. Some moments I feel like she isn't even gone and it is normal that I haven't talked to her today. I am not sure how long I can hold onto that feeling. The longest I ever went without seeing or speaking to her was about two weeks, so right now, 11 days without her can still be the same as when I was off at college. Three days from now and for each day that follows, the longest I've been without her will grow in a way I don't want to face.
Sadness- This is the emotion that sits with me most. It is there behind all the other feelings, good or bad. It isn't always strong and I don't always view it as an overwhelming thing, but I am constantly aware of it.
Fear- What if I encounter a moment when I need her more than ever before and she isn't there to call? What happens when her passing isn't so recent that people are asking me how I am and I still feel the sting of losing her? Who will want to still be my shoulder when I'm crying about this years from now? What if I forget how she smelled or the quality in her voice? How will I get through the big events in my life without her there?
These questions go on and on, but I am getting better at breathing through them.
Warmth- Everyone I know has stepped up in ways I could never have imagined. The constant flow of love and kindness has transformed my views on my support system. Even the tiniest gestures such as comments on a Facebook post have each individually made an impact on my ability to stay smiling. There is nothing I could not face backed by the people I have in my life. I couldn't possibly list every kindness done for me but here are a few that truly stand out:
- My three best girlfriends planning a sleepover for the night of my mom's memorial so I didn't go to sleep alone.
- A woman I am in a show with who I barely know took the photo from my last blog post and made it into jewelery for me.
- Younger cast members from the same show (who I also barely knew) all signing a card filled with their perfect words.
- The friends who have called or sent me texts everyday saying, "Just reminding you that I love you" or my friend who keeps sending me funny cat photos that light up my world.
- The unlimited hugs, which I will never ever tire of.
- Opening my mailbox after a week to find it flooded with cards. One of them said "corn dog" on the front and had a picture of a dog eating corn... I actually laughed and cried for a full ten minutes, looked at it again and laughed some more.
- My stepfather sitting with me and in one beautiful conversation showing me that we will always have each other.
I am not sure what I will feel tomorrow or an hour from now or even one minute from now, but so far I haven't seen something I cannot face. Armed with my mother's spirit, the memory of her presence and the people who love me I will push forward.
Tomorrow I hope to be ready to write about muffins.