I have been trying to understand grief for a while now. What it looks like, what it feels like, what to expect, what to do… but I have come to find out that grief, in its entirety, is a completely personal journey that looks, tastes, and feels different to everyone.
Grief is not some perfectly laid out path that is detailed with instructions on what’s to come and how to handle it. It comes in waves, on different days, in a plethora of different ways. Yet, when researching Grief and trying to get a grasp on the what the fuck is going on with me, I found that there are “Seven Stages of Grief” (or as I like to call it, “The Roller Coaster and Fuckery of Emotions that make up Grief”) and that I must currently be in the “Pain & Guilt” portion of this journey.
As stated by Recover-From-Grief, “You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.”
I have this heavy, sinking feeling of remorse. SO. MUCH. REMORSE.
Because ALL I want to do is tell my mom how very, very sorry I am. And because I can’t call her or stop by her house or take her to lunch or go for a walk with her, I have been telling her in my car, when I lie in bed at night, moments at my desk when I can’t focus on anything else, or truly, whenever it wells up in my chest, gets caught in my throat, and proceeds to pour down my face in big ass elephant tears. I am often sobbing, and sounding like a babbling, incoherent weirdo through the tears and apologies. But I say it aloud – to her, to myself – so she knows that if I could do it all over again, I WOULD. And I would do it better… so much better…
So what am I so sorry for? EVERYTHING.
EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Including but not limited to:
I am sorry that she got cancer. And that it spread. And that it robbed her of so much – Things I couldn’t give back to her.
I am sorry she lost her hair, not once, not twice, but thrice. But she had the most perfectly shaped head and rocked bald like a boss.
I am sorry I didn’t sleep over at her house when she told me she just wanted someone to spend the night because she was lonely. I lose sleep over this often because there is no excuse. NO. FUCKING. EXCUSE.
I am sorry that my ringer wasn’t on when she first started losing her hair during her first round of chemo. I missed that panicked phone call and couldn’t comfort her in her time of need.
I am sorry that I placed my expectations of what she should be doing and how she should be living on her. I promise I only wanted better for her.
I am sorry she didn’t have the chance to do everything on her bucket list. I wish I could have made it all happen.
I am sorry she and I got into an argument when we were up north a few years ago. We missed going into town because of that argument and I now I can never “go into town” with her again.
I am sorry I wasn’t fully present a lot of the time in the last year and half of her life. Losing two of my closest friends on top of her rapidly declining health had me in a fog – a different element – and I couldn’t grasp much of anything at all.
I am sorry that on her 62nd birthday, she was given a death sentence; the news that her cancer had spread to her brain. I remember her lying in the hospital bed, crying, saying she just wanted to go home. I wish I could have just taken her home.
I am sorry that she never thought of herself as the powerful, beautiful, smart, funny, and remarkable woman that so many of us knew she was. I wish she could have seen herself through my eyes.
I am so sorry for so very much. I hope she knows that everything I did was out of pure love, even if it came out terribly wrong. Also, so much was out of absolute fear – fear of losing her, fear of hurting her, fear of not doing the right thing, fear of not being able to help her.
My Grief Counselor says that the guilt part of grief comes from the lack of control we experience when we are losing/have lost someone. I remind myself of that daily. But it doesn’t dull the pain of my regret. I am sure this will soften over time, as I move forward on this journey, but as I stand here, right now, I hope she knows that I wish I would have done better.
I am sorry, Mama.