How does one find reprieve?
What can be done when the mind won’t stop, and the feelings of intense grief continues to rise and crash to the surface and threaten to rub its concentrated saltiness into already stripped and peeled off skin? What can be done to redirect those thoughts and feelings or simply stall them for a while?
I mean, a Momma can only take so much pain.
It starts during pregnancy, actually. In the beginning…yes, those words. The beginning of a child forming in a mother’s womb does change everything. Not every Momma is thrilled, but I will go so far as to say every Mother feels something.
We have no choice, really. All of those maternal hormones flood through our bodies and sets us up. Every part of me during pregnancy was every part of my child. We were one in the same. The feelings and emotions were intense.
And it never, ever ends.
My son grew to thirty-seven years old, yet to me he was still a little boy. Still my baby. Oh, he would blush and grin at this idea, but I know he secretly loved it. No matter how old my son would have grown to be, he was my firstborn. My child. My son. My boy.
So when what I gave my life for and invested so much time, energy, and emotion into was ripped from me? Well, those feelings didn’t die along with him.
In fact, they intensified. I found myself reliving every single day of Michael’s life. My mind goes back in time over and over again. Sometimes remembering the wonderful, but a great deal of the time, thinking about the hard stuff. How I handled certain things. How I disciplined him at times and when I said no and when I was hard, hard on him especially in his teen years.
I was barely an adult myself then. What did I know?
Absolutely nothing. I certainly did not know that he would up and die on me.
If I would have known that, for sure I would have done so much differently.
Isn’t this how we all think? After life hums along and you really believe you’ve got more time to do this, or fix that, or say what you need to.
I believe this is called regret.
And all of us know that we should not live in that. Regret.
But regret had its claws into me and wasn’t going to let go. It was planning on leaving its mark. Its goal to leave me battered and bruised and scarred for life.
I tried to keep myself busy with the everyday stuff. Housework and busy work and errands that needed to be done or things that I made important even when they weren’t. I tried to take up a new hobby. Knitting. That was helpful for a few cast on rows, but it was hard for me to keep count of all those garter stitches. I always seemed to slip one here and there. Just like time had slipped away. Days of life dropped just like that.
I could not concentrate to read. Not one line. Reading took a lot of effort. The words became all blurry and smeared and ran together through the tears.
I don’t know exactly how, but one day it began. With remote in hand, I started surfing through channels on the television. The noise and the glare and the constant movement on the screen crowded out all of the thoughts taking over my brain. Soon, a sort of numbness set in and there was a sweet relief to be found through this portal of endless distraction. I discovered drama and comedy and hours and hours of series lumped together on Netflix. I traveled near and far on PBS and to tell you the truth, I do not remember where.
All I know is that I got lost.
The hours slipped by and the night time came and then I could finally go to bed and sleep. I made it through another day.
There was a time when I logged on to this computer and I happened to see a small square of screen flash about something on YouTube. I was not one to venture there much in the past, but the beckoning to learn something DIY drew me in and I was hooked. Soon, I was watching women much younger than I am tell me about a new make up line and how to apply eye shadow to make a perfectly smokey lid and about all of their used up “empties” for the month and let me tell you…it all mesmerized me. I don’t even care about make up. I don’t care much about the newest hair style or the perfect jewelry or bag to buy that goes with most everything. I just don’t care.
But like a fly caught up in a spider web, I was held captive.
The glory of it all was that I believed I had power over it. In fact, the idea is not lost on me that the buttons that turn things off and on is known as the power button. The power switch. I could hold that remote and control what came through the television screen. I could pause, rewind, or stop a Netflix or YouTube video at will. I could turn the volume up or down or entirely off.
At least I thought I was in control.
The numbness would only die down when the power of these distractions was turned on. I had become so acclimated to the noise that the silence in between the series and streaming grew louder and louder and I realized that what I had done was allow myself to become a zombie. I was in a trance.
I checked out.
On this side of things, I can see the truth of it. I am fearful that someday, when I look back I will be haunted by an even greater regret. I will wonder if I gave myself a chance to process my loss or if I simply covered it up with all of this numbness.
I believe I allowed all of this to swallow up more precious time.
Because these feelings of loss and grief will never go away. Just like his birth, the death of my son is now part of me. They are one in the same. Why would I ever want anything different?
Why would I want to be numb to it all?
It’s time for me to realize that this Momma can take in so much pain. I can walk through it. It simply comes with the honor of being a Momma.
And it should never, ever end.