… from the bungalow


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Are You There, Mom? It’s Me, Your Son

Hi, friends! I’ve missed you. Writing anything at this point feels a bit moot, but we’ll give it a go.

Two years ago was my first Thanksgiving without my mom, and it kind of sucked. I didn’t even spend it with family. I spent it working on what would be a 23-page comprehensive literature review (for my first grad class! Ugh!), then eating at a friend’s house. Last year was spent with grandparents and relatives, along with my father-in-law right after we lost my mother-in-law. Not exactly conducive to the warm fuzzies. So, I’m working on regaining that sense of nostalgia and warmth that used to make Thanksgiving my favorite holiday. I spoke with my therapist last weekend about how to do this. My assignment is to write to my mom; it might help me lift some of the weight from my shoulders. I thought about this as I got ready for work this morning. As serendipity (synchronicity) would have it, a guest post I wrote for The Monster in Your Closet (three years ago!) popped up, right on cue, to get me started. Ready?

Dear Mom:

I miss you. Sometimes I think you’re here with me, but I don’t dare ask or hope. I don’t think I could handle the realization that you’re just … gone. It’s easier to keep it in a perpetual state of “I wonder,” you know? Like suspecting there’s something medically wrong with you, but never going to the doctor for fear they’ll confirm the worst. But when my therapist appeared to get a chill down the back of her neck and mentioned green bean casserole, I got hopeful. Pesky hope.

I’ll be honest. When you decided you didn’t want to be placed on a ventilator–and subsequently stopped breathing and died in your sleep–it made me angry. I mean, I’m glad the transition was relatively peaceful for you, but it gutted me. I couldn’t get there in time. I know you never wanted to cause me pain, but you did. Maybe you were OK with not living anymore, but I wasn’t. And maybe your family needing you wasn’t worth the high cost of living with a degenerative disease. I wish it had been. Still, I get it. Given your situation, I honestly can’t say if I would do anything differently.

But, Mom, life without you has been really f*cking hard. (Sorry. I know you hate the F-word.) Every time I think about you, I see a void. When I’m stressed and want to call you? Void. When I visit relatives? Void. Whenever Dad visits, I see a void: big and obvious and standing right there next to him where you used to be.

Where you’re supposed to be.

It’s gotten so I avoid visiting or even talking to family members. I can’t tell if the loss of you is getting easier because I’m accepting it or because I’m ignoring it.

The thing is, you’re more than a void, and my memories of you demand to be honored as such. More than dishonoring you, I’m choking off any potential joy I could be reveling in having been raised by you. So, hey, let’s go back, OK?

Remember when you read Ramona and Beezus to us at bedtime? Or Grimms’ Fairy Tales? Or The Five Chinese Brothers? Remember when you bought me my The Fall Guy lunch box? The bologna, American cheese, and Miracle Whip sandwiches you packed for me that stuck to the roof of my mouth? Remember the time I turned on the vacuum cleaner while you were holding the cat and she freaked out and clawed you up and you were bleeding all over yourself? How you were so calm and kind in telling me, “It’s OK; it wasn’t your fault”? Remember how you stayed up half the (all?) night to make that vampire Halloween costume so I could wear it to school the next morning and I was too shy/self-conscious to wear it? How you were disappointed, maybe even ticked off, but still validated my feelings and reassured me in my worry and guilt?

Remember when you saved my life?

I’m not angry at you, Mom. I’m angry at the disease that took you from me. The decision you made not to go on a ventilator was yours to make. I may still be angry about it, but that doesn’t mean I disapprove, necessarily.

I’m reclaiming Thanksgiving, Mom. It can still be my favorite holiday, I’m sure of it. I think I just need to remember you for You, not for the void you left behind. Instead of avoiding memories this week, I’m going to actively engage family in reminiscing. That’s the plan. I might even bake a green bean casserole.

I miss you. Sometimes I think you’re here with me. Let’s hope.

Love,

Your Son

This Thanksgiving, will you join me and love up the people you love? Tell them how thankful you are to have them in your life. Tell the ones you’ve lost how much they mean to you, too. And if this post resonated with you, please share. Maybe it will resonate with someone you know.

Thanks for letting me share.

Love and light,

sig 76

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2014 Donna Day: On loss, regret, and taking action

I’ve missed a lot of opportunities. I have regrets. When my mom’s health was declining after her ALS diagnosis, I thought I’d have plenty of time to see her, to talk to her, to ask her about her best and worst parenting moments. I was wrong. I missed out on so much. That’s something I’ll feel continuously for the rest of my life.

On her birthday this year (February 13, 2014), I had this to say:

You know what really sucks? That the gentlest, most caring person I’ve ever known shouldn’t get to celebrate her 57th birthday. That her husband shouldn’t get to shower her with flowers and gifts, or her children and grandchildren call her or take her out for breakfast. That she shouldn’t get to hear for another year, another day, that she means the world to some people. To me.

“Yeah, it feels like the world has grown cold now that you’ve gone away.”

Although she would say she had no regrets about how and when any of us kids were conceived, I know she regretted a lot about her life. She was trapped, chained, and held captive by her own lack of self-worth. She never finished college and was consistently paid less than she was worth in non-fulfilling jobs. I like to think that, had it not been for her crippling self-consciousness and abysmal self-esteem, my mom would have been a singer/dancer.

I like to imagine her as carefree, moving her limbs expressively with the wind, singing like no one was listening. Really, I think that’s the kind of life she wanted for her kids and grandkids. Before she died, she said that she wanted Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” played at her funeral. That was her farewell message to her grandchildren.

Since then, I’ve felt so weak and checked out of life more times than I can count. I’ve wanted to leave, just quit living. But then sometimes, out of nowhere, I’ll hear “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, and it’s like my mom is there, telling me to keep living and thriving. It’s not how she lived her own life, yet I feel like it’s what she wanted for me. I’m not brave, though. I want to build a nest and bury myself in it until I forget, until I’m forgotten.

But that’s not what my mom wanted for me. She’d want me to be brave, to speak up, to be an advocate and a champion, to be the empathetic, strong yet sensitive human being she helped create. She’d want me to speak up.

I will not miss this opportunity. I almost didn’t do anything for 2014 Donna Day. By now, you’re probably wondering what this post has to do with Donna at all. Continue reading


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My mom passed away.

Friends, I need your help.

Last spring I learned I would lose my mom to ALS, as I wrote about here.

Three days ago, she took a sudden, serious turn for the worse. She passed away while I was on my way to say goodbye. When I arrived, I lay on the bed next to her and cried until I couldn’t force out another breath.

I am carrying a heavy load right now, weighed down by grief and the responsibility of planning my mom’s funeral so much sooner than anyone expected.

This is where I need your help. I have set up a fund here to help defray costs of my mom’s funeral. If you are able to contribute a few dollars, it would be more helpful than my family and I can find the words for right now. It is difficult and humbling to ask, because I know you are shouldering your own burdens.

I don’t know what’s ahead. What I do know, even in the depths of mourning, is that I am grateful for your support these past several months, and now. It is sustaining in the face of such enormous grief.

Thank you for helping hold me up through sorrow. Even in mourning, I know I am blessed.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me about love, compassion, and acceptance.
I love you.

 

Denise L. Tucker 13 February 1957 - 7 June 2013

Denise L. Tucker
13 February 1957 – 7 June 2013

Thank you so much.

Chris

 

Donate here if you can.


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For This I Am Thankful

Dear Friends,

Today I am so honored to be featured as a guest blogger for the FTIAT series on Deborah Bryan’s blog, The Monster In Your Closet. Deb and I crossed paths over a year ago, when she had been blogging for only a short time, and I was a complete noob. We’ve since become real-life friends, and I am totally blessed for it.

I will not sit idly by…” was a difficult, yet rewarding piece to write. I do hope you’ll head over to Deb’s blog and read it. You have my gratitude.

Chris