As I typed the title up there today, I was instantly and perhaps predictably reminded of a nascent butterfly struggling from the crysalis. It's a tired metaphor to be sure. But, it's all I have today.
It is coming up on eight months since Mom died...on the 19th. I still have really bad days. Days when I can't even believe it's real. Days when the realization catches me unaware and I'm back on the floor in a heap with fresh wounds. That sounds really dramatic. But, it's basically the truth of the matter. The truth cuts. Every time.
Every day I wish her back. Every day I look at her picture and wonder what the HELL happened to make her so sick even though I know it was the lifetime of smoking cigarettes. In spite of that fact, she didn't deserve what she got. Nobody ever deserves that. I wouldn't even wish it on the worst serial killer in the world. Perhaps I am too compassionate. I'm not sure that is really possible. Some days I think of my compassion as an almost sacred duty in a world that is sadly lacking.
So I've become hyper aware of things that are bad for me. I have, in fact, come full circle back to my self-awareness. For the last eight months, and probably the year before that as well, I've been utterly unconcerned with my own well-being. I've gotten no pleasure from eating or exercising or living. It was all stuff I just did automatically. Just keeping the lights on as it were.
I doubt it is a conincidence that this should happen in the spring. Everything around me is becoming aware and emerging into the sunshine again. Things are growing. The fruit trees are flowering like madness. The world continues to turn and the days continue to lengthen. And with every robin sighted and every freshly germinated seedling, I am reminded of my promise to my Mother. She told me, "Go and enjoy your life! Make me proud." In my pre-grieving state, I promised I would all the while not really believing it would be possible.
But, today, I'm starting to think that it is possible again. I know I've said this before but the feeling is stronger today. However, the feeling is also fleeting. If I think on it for too long a time, it darts away to hide again behind the hole in my heart. So I have started to give that feeling a side-eye glance from time to time approaching it like a skittish puppy who has lived a feral life and offering tidbits to coax it out into the sunshine and maybe even into my arms.
I have begun to court my own happiness.
You see, I've had a realization. It wasn't a bolt from the blue. It just sort of crept up on me in the night when I wasn't looking. My Mom said to me, "Go and enjoy your life! Make me proud." I heard her words but in my mind I separated them into two distinct things discreet from each other. It was as if she had said, "Go and enjoy your life! But make sure you do something super fantastic or I won't be proud of you." I don't think that's what she meant at all. I think she meant that it would make her proud to see me enjoy my life whatever that enjoyment might mean to me. She meant for me to define that enjoyment and just enjoy the hell out it.
My Mom was a stoic woman. She was not given to outbursts of emotion like I am. She always said I was too sensitive for my own good. I often wondered how she managed to raise me at all...her especially sensitive child. She never tried to crush it out of me. She never tried to make me tougher or more stoic. She always, always let me be me. Even when she didn't agree. Maybe especially when she didn't agree. Because she knew that, in my own time and in my own way, I would emerge and become the person I was meant to be.
Today, I am one step closer to it. And I know she is proud.