Today Is a Hard Day.
I'm writing because today is a hard day. Or let me correct myself - today should be a hard day.
November 28 stands out in my mind like a sore thumb. There are three other days (November 30, December 1 and December 4) that hold the same significance in my life and they all follow one another. Which usually makes this a hard week (plus a day if you want to get technical).
Three years ago November 28 was Thanksgiving Day. Do you remember how awkwardly close to December it was?? I don't recall it ever falling so close to the end of the month before. It helps it stand out (as if I needed any more help on that one).
Three years ago on Thanksgiving, we took our last family photo with my Mama.
For the past two years, November 28 has brought a crushing wave of emotion. However, this year grief has looked a little different for me than before. The picture above popped up in my Facebook feed this morning and it reminded me that I hadn't yet cried for my Mama. In fact, I can't quite remember the last time I have cried over my Mama.
The only sign of emotion I showed at all today (until now when I forced myself to think about the subject in detail) was in quick passing with a friend while I dropped off some clothes for her daughter on an early lunch break. Even then, remembering my Mama was on a long list of things I rattled off as making my day a "bad day." I choked up for a minute, composed myself and kept on talking.
Maybe I should feel good about the fact that the sting is a little less... relieved that the thought of my Mama's passing isn't debilitating? Wrong. Feeling that way had turned into something completely different that I never expected - guilt.
I'm not talking about the guilt you expect someone to feel after someone's passing. I've been through the "should-coulda-woulda" stage of grief before. I've thought many a long night about how I could've been closer to my mom, why I didn't visit more, why I picked so many needless fights with her, how sorry I felt that I grew up closer to my Dad than I did to her, asking myself why I let her little idiosyncrasies embarrass me... Those feelings of grief are in check. The grief feeling I'm talking about looks more like this picture:
Yes, me too. The guilt I feel is because quite honestly, right now my Mama's absence isn't consuming. I feel guilty because I should be sad. I should still cry. I should have a hard time celebrating my son's 2nd birthday because I should be so upset that my Mama isn't there to see it.
This feeling is confusing. Conflicting even. I know she would be happy that I'm happy in this picture above. But then why do I feel so dern guilty about being happy just like she would want? This is not how a daughter is suppose to act three years after her mom is gone - or at least, not how the picture I have in my mind about grief should look...
As any normal human I took to Google to see if anyone else had my same problem. This is the pre-populated search at the bottom of the search page:
Those searches don't even seem related to how I'm feeling. I do feel something very real - I feel guilty for not being sad. Does anyone else on the planet not feel this way? Am I the only completely heartless and selfish daughter out there?
I've heard the old saying life must go on. She would want me to be happy. She would want me to make the most of every day in her loving memory. And OK, I see the good in those sayings, but it's not changing the fact that I want to be sad over this.
It's comforting in some strange way to burst in to tears because I miss her so. I feel much more comfortable with crying because the anniversary of her death is later this week than knowing the day is coming and not crying over it.
Have you ever watched a sad movie on purpose because you wanted to cry? My go-tos are "The Notebook" or "Beaches" or "Hope Floats." And I'm sure I could buy one of those on Amazon right now and have myself a good cry but I think that would make me feel even more guilty - that a movie can make me sob, but remembering November 28, 2013, can't even conjure up an ugly-cry face.
To reference a quote from one of those tear-jerking movies, my cup does not runneth over. My cup seems empty.
Love you, friend. I understand the guilt! Grief is such a complex thing and I think we, as moms, have been programmed to compartmentalize so we can function. It doesn't mean the grieving is over. It may not show up on the "important" dates, but may come when you least expect it. Cry when there are tears and enjoy life when you have the capacity to do so. It doesn't mean you are heartless...you are a human responding to both the joys and sorrows of our existence. 😘
Thanks, Gracie. You have been such a sweet friend through all of this. I so appreciate your words - and your hugs!! :)
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Wife, mom and full-time marketing pro. Diet coke addict. Auburn fan (and alumn). Christian - striving to comprehend grace.