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.