Monday, December 23, 2013

A Moment of Honesty

I am sad. I want to go to Christmas services, but I know I will sob, and I just want someone to hold me as I cry. And I am tired of people looking at me with pity or confusion or some mixture of the two...or worse, those who just don't get it and don't even try.

My grief feels like a burden. A burden I'm trying to shield others from... because as silly as it sounds, a part of me does feel like because it's been a year since my mom died... I should be "over it." 

And I have so much to say, but none of it wants to come out. Or it comes out how it appears in this blog post—disjointed, scattered, wrought with intensity but not really making much sense.

I feel weak and small and like I can't breathe.

My family will not be together this Christmas. My dad is in Georgia, my nieces and nephew are doing their own thing.

I am alone, although my best friend and I will have a nice dinner Christmas evening.

Truthfully, my family can never be together in the same way ever again, no matter what, and I don’t have any fancy words for it, it just sucks so badly and feels so heavy that I can barely breathe.

I should not be the oldest woman in my family. Not yet...I'm too young. I don't know how to do this... grief is such an evil beast sometimes.

I have made a complete ass out of myself lately—I’ve made so many mistakes, said so many ridiculous things, and felt borderline out of control with my much, so raw... to the point that a little piece of me wants to shut down.

Another part of me still doesn’t understand how I am the one living, when no one depends on me, and I think of Kasey—and Leigha, Aaron, and Alexis—and I wonder at the absolute unfairness of it all, how hard this is for someone as “strong” as I am to handle, but how are the kids really hanging in there? How are they actually handling this?

I look around and see sisterly love all around me… and I am blessed to have sisterly love in my own life, too.

But it’s like a part of me has died—forever—because my only sister is gone from this earth. I can see her facial expressions and hear her words and her tone of voice when Leigha talks, especially to her kids—but I ache to hear Wendy’s voice again. I ache to share childhood stories again. I can’t call her, text her, or Facebook message her ever again. This is not a new reality, but it sure as hell feels new… still…

As Christmas approaches so fast… I can’t help but think of all the hours spent putting up Christmas decorations—the careful placement of tiny pixies and other assorted Christmas knick-knacks, the deliberate placement of lights on the tree, the smell of apple cider in the crock pot, the fussing Mama used to do, ordering Daddy around as if he should be able to read her mind at this point—those memories have taken me over a lot lately, and there’s nothing I want more than to be back in the house I grew up in—as chaotic and angry as it sometimes was—because the carpet I traced patterns in was there—the linoleum I made into roadways for my matchbox cars was there—the creaking floorboards were there, and I knew that house so well that I could walk all through it, avoiding every creaking board, quiet as a mouse.

(I sometimes tested that theory after everyone had gone to bed, when I would lie awake, disturbed by some nightmare, and I felt the need to walk through the house, or make my way out to the den to watch TV with the sound turned down so low, I could barely hear it, as I sat totally still, listening for the stirrings of Mama so I could rush to turn it off, undetected.)

The point is—my whole existence began in that house. That house was my first point of reference, and—as every cell in my body and every breath of my soul seeks reassurance, guidance, and comfort—my psyche takes me back to the Pandora’s Box of 535 Northill Drive.

I spent roughly the first half of my life in that house. And all of the emotions and memories and arguments and laughter and meals and the life we lived was contained within those walls. I still go back there in my dreams, and almost every single night lately, I’ve been in that house, dreaming… my mind grasping at things that can no longer be… even in my sleep, my restless, tossing turning sleep…

Like the way Wendy got so mad when I spied on her and her latest boyfriend as they sat in the living room, with the louver doors closed. I peered through the slats and wedged the doors open as little as possible just to get a glimpse of what might be happening. I mostly did it because I knew it drove Wendy absolutely insane. I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, or what I hoped to catch—I was so much younger… I just knew it made her crazy, and that was enough for me.

And walking around the vintage and antique stores yesterday just before I left Austin was a special kind of nostalgic torture, too, because I saw so many things—things I never would have imagined seeing in a shop like that—that we used to have. Vases I had to dust, over and over again… Season’s Greetings cocktail glasses, the embroidered floral scene with strange coloring and the drabbest taupe-y brown fabric background—including the thin wooden frame—so many things… light fixtures, dishes, furniture—that we either had, had something similar to it, or that somehow catapulted me back to that house… 535 Northill Drive… and that period of time… as if it were yesterday.

I could feel Mama all around, and I could feel Wendy, too.

At one point, I had to get the hell out of there. It was really just too much.


Life is full of these moments, where the flipside of joy is a deep ocean of pain, where tears of laughter and happiness are even louder and more poignant because underneath that big laugh lies a cavernous well of memories and loss…

And I am here, and I don’t know why… I don’t understand the blessings that I have received.

But I am receiving them…

And, I am open.

As painful as it is right now, I am open.


  1. I am so sorry, LL. You have every reason in the world to feel the way you do and there is no rush to get "over it". I venture to say you'll never get "over" it - how is that possible when you lose your mother, your sister. Perhaps people rush you in your grief because they don't know what to say and it makes them uncomfortable with themselves. No matter. You grieve in your way in your own time even if it does make you feel out of control sometimes.

    Sending love and prayers.

    1. Thank you Jeannine. It's been a difficult week or so, and it does help that the sun is shining bright today. A new day.

      And, you're right... my grief (anyone's grief) does seem to make others uncomfortable. I think because we're never taught how to handle difficult things like grief... it's just something you end up getting a crash course in at some point in your life... maybe. It frustrates me that difficult things are so... avoided in our culture. I suppose that in my own way, I am trying to make a little wave of change in that regard.

      Talking about it makes it easier. Lessens the intensity... diminishes the pain... eases my soul...

      Thank you, my friend.