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On Goodbyes

I said in my intro that I would try not to be bleak, so when I saw our first topic for therealljidol was Saying Goodbye, I tried to just make it not about mom. Lord knows I've had many goodbyes in my life, and a great many of those recently. Somehow, it always comes back to this. In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion calls it 'the vortex'. I can't even call it that, because that word takes me down that path of remembrance. I wouldn't have chosen this topic as my introduction to the competition, but I guess you know what they say: When you've gotta swallow a mess of toads, swallow the biggest toad first.

Friends, you've probably heard most of this before. In fact, you may have seen some of this under various filters. You can feel free to pass this on by. (Unless you're considering voting for me, in which case please read and enjoy). New friends, I should probably warn you that this could be triggering for some people. I understand if you pass it by as well.

So many goodbyes.

The Last Real Goodbye

It was several weeks before I was able to think about our last 'real' goodbye. It had been several days since we'd seen her, so we stopped in on the way home. I don't remember what we were doing in Arden, or where Josh was. It was just me and the girls. I mainly had to borrow the internet. We discussed the plan for the week. The kids were a bit tired and frantic, and I could tell they were killing her head. I scooped them up and said, “I won't hug you since you're sick, but I hope you feel better. We'll see you tomorrow.” I so wish I'd hugged her.

Goodbye to Reality

The next day, we loaded the girls up for a trip over the mountain to our friend Tracy's house. We had to write down the directions with mileage for my mom. It was several weeks before I had all the pieces of the puzzle, though I knew she'd been hit heading back to work on her lunch break. When I finally saw the accident report, I was well out of that week of shock. I saw the approximate time of accident, the time the police report was filed. It became an irrational point of focus for me: What time did we get to Tracy's house?

It was just after lunch. We were nearly there when it happened. Two out of three turns were left turns. As she sat waiting to turn left onto Ledbetter Road and the 'moving truck-sized vehicle' rear ended her going (at least) 45 mph, was I writing Turn Left? Was I telling her to turn left at the exact moment it was do it or die? Turn left, turn left, turn left. Did she hear it? She couldn't turn yet, but did she hear it and see him and try to take off? Josh and I were laughing and talking about her, I remember. She was going to keep the girls Friday and Saturday, then take them up to Tracy's house Sunday - Mother's Day – and Tracy would keep them another night or two so we could honeymoon in Cherokee. We were saying, “Isn't she wonderful, when it's a two hour drive to Tracy's from her house?” Was I writing Turn Left and joking “Mom will be driving more than we are altogether” at the very moment she stopped driving for good and her brain slammed into her skull?

I knew that was a bad path to go down, but it became my central concern. I remembered that a couple years back I'd read about a couple who never turned left. They meticulously plotted routes and alternate routes to their daily destinations, as well as every vacation they took. They would waste gas and extra time making sure they never turned left. Why on earth? I wondered, and apparently such a higher percentage of accidents happen when someone is turning left that they deemed it prudent to just stop. This couple was well into their seventies, at least when I read the vaguely-remembered article.

Turn left, turn left, turn left.

Goodbye Everything

It hit me when I finally got in there to give her reiki healing. I don't remember which day it was. I let it flow as much as I could the whole time I was in the hospital, but one day I went in alone to give her a full body session. I started at her head, the side that wasn't stapled back on from the surgery. I didn't want to touch it and cause her pain, but I had to feel her soft, strawberry-blond hair. I'm glad I did. It wasn't falling out yet, I know that for sure. I was glad to feel the energy flowing strongly again. I did a lot of work with her heart, but the first lightning hit me when I moved to her sacral chakra.

This is where you came from. Can you really help her leave? Are you helping? “I hope I'm helping, momma,” I whispered. This is everything you've ever been since you've ever been. It hurts to see her like this, but at least you get to say goodbye.

She jerked a little. Nothing to get excited about. They call it 'posturing', only the basest motor reflexes, and the nurses make sure to repeatedly tell us that posturing is not good, and she's not doing it in response to anything we say.

I know better. It happens every time I say my daughters' names, every time I mention Grandma or mom's boyfriend - it happened A LOT and was accompanied by a tear when I said that Grandma was flying in. If that's all she had to give us, I truly believe she was giving us what she could.

I moved my hands from her womb, just held her hand for a moment. It closed on mine a couple times. Posturing.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

I Can Say Goodbye To Expectations. (Now)

They all came. Mom's five brothers and her sister, their spouses, and a few of their kids. Grandma, who said years ago that she wouldn't be able to make the trip again. I expected mom – us – to rush to Illinois for Grandma, not the other way around. Grandma was Matriarch, the center of all I knew as family. I may have been a momma for five years, but she was Grandma, and mom was Mom. I was still just her kid. I can't be Mom yet. I still called to ask how to cook something. Mom was supposed to die after she got to do some things for herself. Happy with a long life, surrounded by the three of us and her grandbabies, too. All of them. They'll always resent me a little for getting the grandma side of Mom.

She was supposed to light my side of the Unity candle. I'm glad she was still at our wedding, but that's not how it was supposed to be. I was so touched to have the whole McDivitt clan singing for me, one of the few non-musically talented in the family, it was a moment I would have basked in as a child. I did love it. I put aside sadness for Josh that day – the day he saw mom for the first time like that, yet stood beside her and married me a couple hours after. It was our day of joy, and I felt so guilty for watching the video and resenting how much it sounded like a funeral. I didn't realize how heavy and sad my voice was. I have trouble listening to them sing Amazing Grace for us.

Eden read her first chapter of a book the other day, Dick and Jane's Something Funny. We went over it twice and she just had it. She practiced all the way to pick up Josh, so she could do it without messing up even once. That night I hugged her tightly and told her how very, very proud she made me. She positively beamed – and then her face crumpled, and she said, “Oh mom! I wish my grandmother were here,” and we cried together. I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect that. So I am trying to get past expectations. I'm no longer a child; I'm Mom. Maybe not the best one, but I learned from her.

It's hard saying goodbye to everything I ever was and everything I ever expected.

Wish You Were Here

I stopped reading articles about grief, because most of the ones I found don't take a holistic or spiritual approach to the process. They talk about survivors grasping at straws, creating signs where there are none because they're too stressed and fragile to handle reality. I reject your reality and substitute my own!

I know the truth of what mom and I had.

From the moment she was literally wheeled under my nose when I arrived at the hospital, I knew mom's passing would be as strong as her life. When every song playing during visiting hours are some of her favorites, or some she used to sing to us, when she 'postures' every time something about the family is said, when she shrugged when I asked her a question...Believe what you want. I'll believe my truth. When I started to doubt it, and I got overwhelmed and ran away, the only words I heard people calling after me – through every hall – were, “Thank you.” Lest I doubt (and I did), someone cried out “Thank you, Amanda” as I waited for the elevator. It was a nurse, calling back to another. It was 2 am and I saw no one, but I heard the messages just fine. I got the point, and quit doubting.

Sometimes I expect to hear from her. She was a channeler, after all. One definite thing I learned from her is that things do exist on the other side, and some people are blessed with the ability to communicate. I don't look for her. If it happens, it happens. In the meantime, I appreciate it that Wish You Were Here comes on every time I start thinking of her when the radio is on. I resented when I realized that that connection was gone, her presence in my life was gone. Not there. Then I appreciated it when I suddenly felt her again, and I knew it was her, though different. I even think I understand it, though it's not something I can explain.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

So What Do I Have To Say About Goodbye?

Always hug. Just don't cling too tightly.

If I hold you with my emotions,
you'll become a wished-for companion.
If I hold you with my eyes,
you'll grow old and die.
So I hold you where we
both mix with the infinite.


( 67 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 26th, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I'm crying for you. Even as I sit and watch my own mother wither to a disease with no cure, I can't imagine your pain. XOXO
Sep. 26th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm so very sorry to hear about your mother! I'll be happy to hold your family in prayer if you like.
Sep. 26th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
I really relate to the "I'm not ready to be the Mom yet" and the thoughts that your kids got Grandma and there will be resentment on some level for that. Laurel's the only one of my kids who really got to know my grandparents and when my grandmother died it was the end of an era.

Now, I don't even think I can begin to comprehned the loss of a parent to tragedy, especially Mom. Three years ago when an EMT called me from my mom's cell phone to ask me to meet them at the hosptial after a bad car accident I nearly melted. When I saw my mother on the table swollen and still and the Drs working on picking glass out of her while trying to discern internal damage... I nearly threw up. She was fine, though. She came through without anything serious. I will never be more thankful than I was the day I took her home.


You write beautifully, Amanda. I am glad you know the real truths of it, too.

One more bit... I tell Anna that she can always send me a hug... it will always get to me. I really believe that, and I don't think it stops with this life. Your mom gets those hugs from you and she sends her own back in response. Just keep talking to her... she hears... and she'll answer when she can.

Sep. 26th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad your mom was okay. How long did she have to stay in the hospital?

I'm glad you think I write well, too. I've been kind of struggling with it lately.

I do realize we're still connected now. There were many months when I felt her absence quite clearly, but I do feel her back. I actually tuned in with her and asked for her help writing this. I felt a bit guilty. It's a pretty private thing, you know? But I felt a very distinct hug and it all felt and flowed all right, so that kind of answer is just as clear. :)
(no subject) - dodging_fate - Sep. 26th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dodging_fate - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
Having read this story before, it does not cease to bring me to tears. Your girls are lucky to have a mom like you.

As always, I have you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much. For your kind words as well as your prayers. *hugs*
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
*love you*
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
*loves you too*
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
A stunning tribute.
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
I didn't see this when you posted it -- at work, maybe, I don't know -- but it's beautiful.

Love and hugs, dear one.
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's today... n/m. I thought it was from a week ago and I'd missed it somehow. Bleh.
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
very powerful
does writing about it help any?
Because it seems to flow out of you and I don't know if that's because there is so much pain or if you're able to share because you reached a point where it helps.

Sep. 26th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I have actually been having a lot of trouble writing, which is part of why I joined up at LJ Idol to begin with. I did ask mom's help with it, and I mused over it all week before writing. Since this was for a writing competition and not just filtered dumping, I tried to be more conscious about it. I do believe that the time has helped a bit, although I read back and felt that some of my most powerful writing actually happened right there when it was all going on.
Sep. 27th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
So powerful and true.
Sep. 27th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 27th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
Beautiful and very moving entry. I look forward to reading more of your entries.

Best of luck in Idol.
Sep. 27th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so very much!
Sep. 27th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
this was beautiful. thank you for sharing it.
Sep. 27th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm glad you think so.
Sep. 27th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
Always hug. So very true words, that I will cherish. I am a hugger, but I have to be careful though. Hugging is natural for me, for insecurity reasons and my disability to want to be near and touch things.

The words that flowed ... the words that eloquently you shared of your experiencing losing someone whom you loved closely were very well written. HUGS!
Sep. 27th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much! I'm glad that you enjoyed my post. I'm also a big hugger. Luckily, most folks around here seem to be huggers too. :)
Sep. 27th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
This is excellent. ::hug::
Sep. 27th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ahavah - Sep. 27th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 27th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
This is such a moving, emotional piece. Your last line really resonates with me.

Very well done. Thank you for sharing your story.

Sep. 27th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad it moved you.
(no subject) - java_fiend - Sep. 28th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 27th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
i cried. *HUG*
Sep. 27th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so sorry! But thank you for sharing you heart with me & mine.
Sep. 27th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
The best entries are written from the heart. And this is one of them. Great job (wipes tears away)
Sep. 27th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much! That means a lot to me.
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Ahavah Ehyeh

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