I Think I Saw Her

Yesterday was a challenging day on my spirit. There were a lot of tears and some wonderful support from friends. But I am still recovering from it. And probably will for some time.

But I think I saw her. In my dreams. I have shared before those excruciatingly, frustrating dreams of my mother, where no matter what I do, I cannot see her face. Her back is always turned to me, or she is in a position where I can’t get myself to the angle to see her face.

Last night, I dreamt we were back at Bready School. We hadn’t been there for years, but all the people who had been there when it was our home, as well as staff from Alexander Junior High, were still there. And it was as though my mom was with me, and everyone knew she was dead, but we could all see her and it was normal for her to be there with me. We drove to the school and parked on the street at the front door. While we walked up the path I looked at the two memorial trees that had been planted for classmates that had died decades ago. The one tree was massive – it was so tall that I felt it went into the clouds and couldn’t even see the top. I said to my mom, “Look at Tara’s tree.”

As we walked the halls together and met someone in our path, they would look at her and greet her with respect. And she would nod, and smile in recognition. In the quiet way she held power. Knowing everyone. We ended up having a meeting with Mrs. Davidson in the main office, and although I don’t remember the details of what we discussed, I remember looking at her bookshelf and seeing my mother’s books there. And thinking, “Oh, those are the books that I gave the school after mom died.”

The next scene we were back at our house in NB, and I was in my bedroom, extremely frustrated with not being able to find anything in my closet to wear. I think I was going back to Bready to be a teacher and couldn’t find an outfit to wear, so the kids would like it but it would still be acceptable as a teacher. I know my mom came into my room, but I can’t remember if we resolved the outfit or not.

And that was it. I woke up and as I groggily got out of bed and walked into the hallway, going through the pieces of the dream, I stopped when I realized, “I think I saw her.” But it wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t like before when the dream was so clear that the premise was that I deliberately could not see her. But there wasn’t a moment of recognition like, “I have been longing to see your face, and now I can.”

My girlfriends and I like to analyze our dreams. Although I am struggling with this one. Does it have anything to do with my draining day yesterday? If so, then what is the connection? Now that she was more a part of my dream, with me by my side, instead of being that beacon I am trying to grasp?

I’ll keep thinking about it, and shed a few more tears. Maybe it’s her way of letting me know that even though I feel so ridiculously alone, it will be ok, because she is sort of with me, but sort of not, and I need to be ok with that.

Reckless Love

I stumbled across Bleachers and was blown away by their album Strange Desire. It was an unexpected take on what the 80s would sound like in our world today.

Even though I grew up with 80s music, I never was drawn to it as I am to this album. And one song I can not get out of my system yet is Reckless Love. Tonight when I YouTube the video and found the live version, I loved the introduction to the song.

“This song is about learning to be more kind to yourself.”

I could use a bad disguise
To guard me in the darkest nights
I keep finding my way to the harshest words

I’ve got a strange, strange vision

Of a reckless love
Standing in a world of my own
They call it reckless love

So give me a chance to remember
What I’ve given up to defend you
I would burn my dreams away

Just to stand in the thankless shadows

Of your reckless love
Standing in a world of my own
They call it reckless love

(Standing on the other side of your reckless love)

Thinking on the other side of your reckless love
Get out
Stand Back
If you don’t let go your gonna break me

So give me a chance to remember
What I’ve given up to defend you
I have burned my dreams away

To stand in the broken shadows
Of your reckless love
Your thankless love
Your restless love
A thankless love
Your reckless love
It’s a thankless love
Your reckless love
Your reckless love

Final Call the Midwife = Final Days With My Mom

Oh, what a fabulous show on Netflix. It brought me joy and heartache and sadness. It made me long to be pregnant again and dream of the days of breastfeeding and how much I loved it. And how much I love and miss my mom.

This last third season had a number of moments that made me think of my mom. A few episodes in, there was a new mother who was nervous to deliver her child because her mother had always promised to be there with her, but her mother had passed away. And I had the memory of setting out my mom’s picture in the hospital room when we were welcoming Arrine into this world. And how that was the time I felt I needed my mom the most.

But the last episode was unsettling for me. (Spoiler alert – don’t continue reading if you want to watch the final episode with fresh eyes.) One of the younger midwives learns that her mother is very ill and dying. In her last days, her mother mentioned how much she wished to have a manicure. The midwife eventually chose to do this for her mother after encouragement from one of the nuns, because she was hesitant due to their strained relationship. But once she began, she knew it was what she should be doing for her mother. And it made me think of the beauty routine I performed almost every day for my mom. Doing her lotion and brushing her hair and then on special days, giving her a manicure and pedicure.

And in the last few minutes of her mother’s life, one of the other midwives encouraged her to get into bed with her mother. And she did. She curled up next to her mother and cried. And it took me back to so many times when I scrunched myself up to get into bed with mom and just cuddle her. And breath her in. So deeply as I never wanted to forget what she smelled like. And while I watched the show, I let out good tears for missing my mom.

So when you watch this last episode, take it for more than fabulous writing on a television show. Take it for the reality of those last weeks, days, moments, I had with my mom.

These Streets

The lyrics of These Streets by Bastille eerily capture how I feel about North Battleford in exact perfectness.

About a year after my mom’s death I cancelled plans I had with girlfriends because leading up to the date I thought I was ok with returning to NB. But when the trip was upon me, I felt out of breath and pressure around my heart and couldn’t go through with it.

I have since returned, many times. Now mostly passing through. It’s not that I specifically avoid it anymore, But even if we won’t admit it to ,We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else.

~These Streets~

These streets are yours, you can keep them
I don’t want them
They pull me back, and I surrender
To the memories I run from

Oh, we have paved these streets
With moments of defeat

But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
But I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

These streets are yours, you can keep them
In my mind it’s like you haunt them
And passing through, I think I see you
In the shapes of other women

Oh we have stained these walls
With our mistakes and flaws

But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
But I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

All that’s left behind
Is a shadow on my mind
All that’s left behind
Is a shadow on my mind

But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
But I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

Mother Roles…Switched

Arrine loves her bath time. And many times she asks me to join in with her. And sometimes I do! We fill the tub full with bubbles and I make her squish over for the two of us and we do more playing than cleaning.

The other night I told her to get naked for bath time and instead, she began to undress me. With her soft little hands and sweet, little girl voice, she echoed the exact words I have said to her hundreds of times.

“Step. Step.” – taking off panties and pants
“Arms up.” – taking off shirt

And in those moments I had a flash back and a flash forward.

First I thought of the time I was taking care of my mom in the hospital, and I felt that she was like my first child. In the ways I was caring for her and devoting myself to her. And then a flash forward, wondering about the days that Arrine really may be caring for me in such a way.

I adore my little girl. She gives me the most wonderful gifts everyday. Whether it is something she says that makes me laugh, or an insightful thought she shares with me, or somehow a connection to my mom.

We are so blessed to have her as our daughter.

Tears Over Salad Rolls

I am blessed to have friends come in and out of my life, always at the right times. I met one dear friend soon after I graduated uni. We connected and then circumstances separated us. But now we are connected once again. Not the same as we first were, but it’s better than not.

We made plans to go for lunch to catch up. And during our lunch, she said the most beautiful things to me. Gifts that no money could ever buy. She gave me treasurable insight to the relationship my mother and I had (have??).

There were a few blips of time she saw my mom and I together. Not much, as it would only be for a few minutes with my mom being around for a quick visit in the city. But she shared with me that she felt that the loss of my mom could be felt more deep, that others who may have lost their mom, because of the intensity of our relationship.

And these were the words that made me cry over salad rolls: “Even though I only saw you together briefly a few times, it was easy to see how precious your relationship was. And it shone like a diamond.”

I will always miss her to my core and feel that teeny bit of emptiness in my heart. But that emptiness is what has made me stronger. And loving who I am now.

Oh Yah, That Was The Song Playing When My Mom Died

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Music is something I write often about, but have noticed that with my diminished writing lately, so are the music posts. But music plays such a significant role in my life. Daily it surrounds me. And urges me to create and reflect and analyze.

And I think we all have times when we hear a song and think, “Hey, this was playing when _________.” And fill in any random life moment. It connects us to memories and the past.

And there are two songs by Buffy Sainte-Marie when I think, “These songs were playing when my mom died.” That morning, when we knew death was upon her, I went to the cd player that I had on every day and put in a soft, instrumental cd that my mom had bought while in Scotland. And then I thought, “This is not the music she should die to.” And I put in Buffy Sainte-Marie, chose her favorite song, He’s An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo and then Starwalker, and I cranked it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGyh7lRLihA He’s An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo6bf88iHHU Starwalker

Aren’t these amazing songs? They bring me joy and heartache and call to my inner Wild Woman. I can feel the pressure build within my chest with anticipation if great things to come, because I know I am my mother’s daughter. And she the daughter of my grandmother, and so on.

And I held my mom’s hand, and sang to her while I cried. And then she died.

I’m Not My Mom

I’m not my mom. That seems quite the obvious statement, but it has taken me years to realize this. When she passed I had this strong sense to step in and fill all the rolls she once had. I desperately grasped onto how things were before she died, and tried to do that by doing all the things she did. Masking them as ways for me to feel connected to her. But I was really just not letting go of her yet.

Tears are falling as I write this. Because it’s excruciatingly sad to let someone go whom you loved with your entire being. But if I continued to hold on, I would stay in that moment of her death until I too passed.

After she died, it became more apparent of the many “people” she was to her friends and family. Shelterer, Counsellor, Mentor, Listener, Organizer, Centre. And I struggled trying to become each of those things. It was exhausting. I so desperately didn’t want things to change. But now I realize that they need to change. Wouldn’t it be worse had she died and we all carried on in the exact same manner as we had when she was alive? It would mean that she didn’t affect us at all.

So I am stating now, not just to myself, but to you all, that I’m Not My Mom. Please don’t take this as a hidden meaning to anything of you whom I am now closer with since her passing. That is not my intent. It makes my heart so very happy to hear of how similar I am to her. In the way I speak and my mannerisms and my outlook on so many different things. That is different. I am how I am, because of her. And that I am forever grateful for. And I cherish our new friendships.

Instead I am stating this to be held accountable and declare that I no longer take on the previous responsibilities or role of my mom. She did things for our family that I cannot try to do anymore. And won’t do. Because that’s not my burden to take on. Our dynamics have changed, and so should they. Our mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin died. It’s not going to be the same anymore. And I am done trying to keep it so.

This isn’t ideal, but neither was my mom dying. And I am at a place where I truly believe that she understands my view on this and hold no guilt onto no longer trying to be her for others.

I Am Me. And my mom wouldn’t want me to be anyone else.

Started & Stopped

On Friday night I started to do something I knew I shouldn’t. Probably about 5 times throughout the night I started the process, then stopped myself. Until I made that final decision to not start again. In the moment I knew why I was wanting to choose a detrimental path – I was tired, and had just been through a really draining day at work and I was hormonal. And my inner thoughts tried to justify my decision, but I knew that it was just excuses.

And I know I couldn’t have made this change if I didn’t have the true inner love and acceptance of myself. And I have gotten to this place though a lot of heartache and tears and finally words – reading ideas and concepts that I connect with and give me the strength to find the strength that already exists inside.

You can get here too. It’s lovely here. Comfort, peace, calmness, joy…

Are you ready yet? Your Wild Woman is waiting for you…

Blue Satin Stocking

Christmas traditions have begun in our household. Here is a post from my latest Facebook status:

“Well, I knew I was a lot like my mom, but tonight I confirmed it. She was notorious for wrapping Christmas gifts, and then tucking them away, forgetting to actually give them. And months later she would find them hidden around her house. Tonight I frantically searched the house for a large shopping bag of gifts I knew I had wrapped already (I did find them). And now I have completely forgotten where I placed another bag of unwrapped gifts. Oi vey.
I really need to start making lists of everything!!”

But the best was this morning when Arrine and I were decorating the tree. I put on the Boney M, as mom would always do, and we began to trim that tree. Once it was perfect, I got out the bag of stockings. Because the last couple (few??) years we have spent Christmas Eve with Nick’s family, Arrine was expecting her pink stocking that Grandma Karen has for her. But I showed her the gold and red one that I sewed her for her first Christmas, from the pattern of the stockings that my mom had sewed for us. It has beautiful gold trim a the top and big, gold shiny bell at the toe. But the smaller, blue satin stocking with white trim and a teeny silver bell caught her attention. “Whose is THIS stocking??” She asked with big eyes. “That was Grandma Anne-Marie’s stocking.” And she held it to her chest and said, “Can I have it now?” And with tears in my eyes, I replied, “Yes, that would make me very happy if you used her stocking.”

So then she said, “Ok! Now we need to hang them on the fireplace…wait. We don’t have a fireplace.” So instead, she hung mine and hers on the knobs of the old sewing machine drawers at the front door, and Grandpa Charlie’s on the pantry door in the kitchen.

Ta da! All decorated for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

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