Life After Loss

Seas of Grace

On March 24, 2017, the first anniversary of my mother’s death, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona, visiting a dear friend who I jokingly refer to as my “other mother.” Last year, on the second anniversary of her death, Jim and I were in Nashville at the Brentwood Arena along with thousands of other people at an Eagles concert.

Today, on the third anniversary of losing my mother, I am at home with my husband and my puppy. We do all the familiar morning things - drink coffee in bed, read, rub the puppy belly and get puppy kisses in return. We will walk Lacey along her now familiar pathways here in the neighborhood. I’ll make lunch, maybe go into town to the library or wander through Barnes and Noble and spend some of the gift card I received for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Then I’ll pick up some flowers and drive over to the cemetery. The flowers will not last - it’s still too cold, and technically according to the cemetery rules I’m not even supposed to put flowers out right now. This is the time of year they’re beginning spring clean ups and they don’t want people making more work for them I guess. But too bad. I’ll take them anyway.

I won’t linger long. As I said, it’s still cold here - colder than it has any right to be at the end of March. But the weather aside, it doesn’t help me to be at the cemetery anymore. I remember my mother every single day, I don’t need to stand on her grave to do it.

A Dog’s Life

I hadn’t given much thought to having a dog when my friend Leigh offered me a puppy from the litter her dog sired in the fall of 2002. Nor did I know much about Shih Tzu’s as a breed, except for how cute they were. It had been almost 15 years since our cocker spaniel died, and we were accustomed to the freedom that life without dogs (and children) affords. After much discussion with everyone in the family, including my mother who would be our backup caretaker, we decided to bring Magic home.

And that’s just what we did. We brought magic into our house. He was lively, and energetic, and cute, and cuddly. We laughed until tears streamed down our faces at his antics, and all of us purred contentedly when he curled up between us on the sofa or in bed at night. He was such a good puppy in all the important ways. He potty trained easily, never chewed anything that wasn’t meant to be chewed, never minded being left alone. In fact, he was such a good dog - the Best Boy in the Whole Wide World - that 18 months later we brought home a baby sister, Molly Mei. And if one Shih Tzu was magic, two of them were pure joy. 

Hashtag

It’s been a queer couple of months since my last post. I feel lethargic. Tired. But agitated at the same time. Disinterested in my normal activities. An odd feeling of disassociation with the things I usually do. I feel myself pulling inward, spending more time alone than usual. Not really caring about much. 

During the first year after I lost my mom, I wrote a lot about grief being like a roller coaster. There were huge vacillations in my emotions - one day I was riding an almost manic high, while other days I was in the depths of despair. I kept extremely busy, scheduling social activities with friends, trying out all my mom’s recipes, gardening like crazy, looking for ways to stay close to her, to keep her presence alive in my life. 

With the passage of the first anniversary of her death, it’s as if the roller coaster has come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of the hill, leaving me strapped inside the carriage, motionless. 

Beautiful House

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been engaged in some home improvement, specifically, updating the kitchen in our condo. When we moved in, the vintage 1994 cabinetry and appliances looked quite up-to-date compared to the 1980’s stuff in our old house. But within a year I decided it would be nice to modernize with new countertops and stainless steel appliances. It would refresh the look and use of the kitchen for me to enjoy, as well as be a good investment for resale purposes.

I started talking about doing this way back in 2014. (One thing you can say about me is that I never move too hastily when it comes to home improvement!) I remember my mom being super excited about it, and she’d nag me gently ever so often. “When are you going to get your new appliances?” she’d say. She even slipped me some extra money in my birthday cards one year. “Put this toward your new kitchen,” she wrote on the inside of the card. 

A Month of Milestones

Today my beautiful mother would have been 90 years old. She wouldn’t like me making a fuss about that number, because she didn’t like being “old.” And she never seemed really old to me, despite the physical infirmities that interfered with her mobility and independence during the last few years of her life. She was sharp and quick witted, up to date on current events, and interested in the modern world around her - young at heart, as the saying goes.