looking back, way back

There are only a few hours left in 2011.  December has felt unmercifully long, and yet I also feel hesitant to plunge into the first month, the first year without my mom.

New Years Eve, 2004
December 30th was the anniversary of my first marriage, which was brief and came to a painful demise.  Out of respect to husbands past and present, I will say little about the relationship, but my recent experience with grief has moved me to a deeper understanding in what happened with my ex husband.  See, he lost his father, who was nearly the same age as my mother, while we were still married.  Both died in December– my father-in-law suddenly, on a sidewalk, while out running on an unusually warm day in Minnesota; my mother slowly and peacefully, in her own bed, on a cool, rainy day in Arizona.    
One of the often-repeated arguments at the end of the marriage involved my ex-husband accusing me of not understanding his grief– “I just lost my father!” I had a full repertoire of responses, some of which were far from compassionate.  I think once I actually snarled “I don’t give a shit!”   To be fair, he was making choices that were incredibly hurtful and destructive to both of us.  But in the end, he was right about one thing– I didn’t understand. I knew he was hurting, but also thought he was using grief as an excuse for his behavior. Maybe he was partially.  But not entirely.  
Well, I get it now. Even if I had understood back then how it felt to lose a parent, it wouldn’t have changed the course of events that brought us to where we are today– not married to each other.  But maybe I would have been a bit nicer to him.  And that would have been, well, nice. 
I feel Mom is helping me go deeper in my healing from that old loss.  This understanding doesn’t change the past, but looking at it from a perspective of more clarity and compassion dispels whatever old angers might be lurking there, so I can be more happy, more content, more trusting, and move forward in life with lightness and hope.

2 thoughts on “looking back, way back

  1. barbara snow

    Darling Katy,
    I’ve been thinking about you and your mom a lot today. I feel her presence sometimes and am both comforted and saddened. I’m wishing for you a peaceful and yes, joyful new year. Your mother would want that for you.
    Love, barb

  2. deb armstrong

    Hi Katie, I am so sorry for your loss. As you know, we have completed 2011 with great joy and happiness. I became a grandma with the birth of Kerry’s Signe, and Jess and Ian just had a wonderful, meaningful, joyful wedding ceremony and reception. I know this is in great contrast to your month of December. As life goes on, we’re often not in sink with each other (as you weren’t with your ex-husband at that time), but over a period of years, I believe most of us become more compassionate with each other because of our losses and lessons learned. I’m sure the loss of a beloved mother is one of life’s most difficult. There really are no words that can lessen those waves of emptiness you feel at this time. No words, but memories of what made your mother joyful, of how she sought joy out and gave it away, and of how much she would want that for you will give you courage to face the difficult times ahead. It will get better, just as your mom would wish… not because you will care less, but because your love for her will grow and be transformed into a love you give away and receive again and again from others who love you back. Take your mom’s memory and love with you into the new year and see how strong it will make you. She will always be a part of your journey. Love and peace, Deb Armstrong


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