Sunday, February 20, 2011

Death sucks for the living

Okay, maybe that title isn't the most ladylike that I've written, but today, that's just how I feel.

Last year, on this same day (February 20th), I wrote about my sister, Renee. It had been 15 years to the day since her death, and I finally felt as though I was in a better place with 'living' with that realization. I know that sounds totally dramalicious and all, but for a family who just lived in denial about it most of the time (how else do you survive?), it was a big thing!

Here we are again, one year later, 16 years since she left us, and I feel like I have taken about 10 steps backwards. Mom's death has a lot to do with that, I'm sure. It's been almost a month since we lost her. An important part of our support system is gone; we all leaned on each other and lifted one another up on the tough days.

The other day, I wrote to my friend, Lynne, about some recent 'Deep Thoughts by Mare'. Scary, yes, but most of my deep thoughts are emotionally charged ramblings that come from the heart. If those kinds of things freak you out, just close the page now. That's the only warning I am going to give you, so don't blame me later on! ;)

If you are still reading, here are some bits and pieces of what I shared with her. Today, they seem so relevant to me for some reason.

I've been thinking a lot about death, and it's strange how similar, yet different, it can be for each person in your life that you lose. When we lost my sister, Renee, almost 16 years ago, it was sudden and unexpected. She traveled often, so although there was such a void in our lives, our brains dealt with the loss by just pretending she was away again. That was all fine and good until the reality of it all set in during the most unexpected times. I remember sobbing in Mark's arms when we took a cruise we had planned to take with Renee. The smell of the ocean (she was a total beach bum) just hit me like a ton of bricks. It was reality smacking me right in the face!

I lost my Dad just a little over 3 years ago. Although my parents divorced when I was 5, I was very close to him. We shared a love of horses and guitars/music, both of which he did for a living. When we moved from New Jersey to New York, he would drive the 3 hours from Pennsylvania to come up and visit us. He loved little Renee so much, and there was nothing better in life to him than just being her Poppy. Then Mark got the job in Georgia. This was very hard on all of us, especially when Dad suffered a stroke and I couldn't be there to help and support him through his recovery. We spoke on the phone numerous times during those long weeks, but it wasn't the same for either of us. Dad died at the end of the year, and it wasn't a good type of closure for me. There was a huge amount of guilt on my part. Again, like with my sister, there were miles between us so it wasn't in my face 24/7. It gave me time to come to terms with the loss before I had to recognize that he was really gone.

With Mom, it feels different. Not only has she been with us since Mark and I got married (20 years ago this November!), but our lives have revolved around her cancers for the past two years. Everything that we did (Renee's homeschooling, shopping, vacations, what I was going to cook for dinner) was scheduled around Mom. It feels weird to just be able to pick up and go somewhere without having to make sure Mom is okay. It almost makes me feel guilty.

Mom and I would always joke about how I would deal with her being gone. Her favorite scenario was that Renee and I would make a life-sized cut-out of her and sit it in the glider in her room so that I could walk in there and talk to! It was something that we did everyday; I would make her coffee, walk it into her room, and we would chat about anything and everything. She thought the idea of me having conversations with a piece of cardboard after she was gone was hysterical!

Mom just had a fantastic sense of humor about it all, but we were very realistic about how our lives would eventually end up. She told me a long time ago that she had 70 wonderful years on this earth, and when God decided it was her time to go, she didn't have any choice in the matter anyway. How true that ended up being; she never did get to die at home with hospice and her family surrounding her with love. Instead, it was just the two of us in a hospital room. I am just so thankful that my stubborn side came out of hiding and I stayed with her, Lynne. I don't know how I would be dealing with the guilt of not being with her when she died.

Deep thoughts, indeed. Sometimes, I curse the fact that I am such a sensitive, feeling woman. On days like this, I wish that I wouldn't even think about the fact that it is a 'death anniversary'. How stupid is that? I know we all should be celebrating life, but my emotions are just too caught up in the reality of the moment. I'm sure if Mom's death wasn't so recent, it wouldn't be as raw to me today.

It also wouldn't be as obvious that three people who walked through this life with me aren't walking beside me any longer. That feels kind of weird.

But yet, here we are, Mark, Mare, and little Renee, three beings touched by the love of some amazing souls yet left without their presence on this earth. We all know they are in a better place, but our daily lives feel so empty without them. We are all so lucky to have each other, though. Maybe that is their gift to us?

As I sit here trying to find a way to end this post in a positive light, Renee just showed me a quote that popped up on a game she was playing on her computer.

"A well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death." ~Leonardo Da Vinci


Are there angels watching while I vent here on our blog? Perhaps they feel as though I need some positive light sent my way via Renee's 'Virtual Families' game? If so, then many thanks, angels who watch over me.

And now that positive light is radiating from my soul, I can honestly say that no matter how many years they had on this earth, Mom, Dad, and Renee loved with all their hearts. If that isn't using life to the fullest, I don't know what is.

Maybe death doesn't have to suck for the living. Maybe death is a reminder to live and love and fight the sadness with all that you are.

Today, in honor of my sister, I am going to focus on the love that they all so selflessly gave to me. I doubt I would be the person I am today if I didn't experience that love.

And today, I am going to send love back to all who have stood by us during these sad days in our life. Words could never express how amazing you have all been. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Now that I have worked through all of that, what should I do about the title of this post? ;)


Christa said...

I think the title is just fine. =)

Christa said... "hugs" comment didn't post because it was in brackets. So, here it is again! (hugs)

Michele said...

Me too Christa! And anyone that doesn't, can suck it. *hugs*

Ahnalira said...

I think the title is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Thank you deeply Mare, for sharing such an intimate piece of you. As I sit in the car in the driveway letting two of the most special loves of my life finish their naps, (now sobbing like a baby thank you very much), I'm reminded yet again of how precious our moments togerher are. Nothing in the world matters except those moments. And your story is a testament to that fact.

Hugs across the miles,

MariBy said...

I also think the title is perfect.

When my mother died over 15 years ago, I discovered that the passage of each loved person in life is very different from the others. And although the loss of each loved one is painful - somehow the passage of a beloved mother is particularly hard.

It takes a big tincture of time, Mare....many hugs to you and your family

Tink *~*~* said...

That quote from Leo sounds like a Memo From The Universe to me.



Tootie said...

Mare, thanks for taking time to come prop me up, when your own heart is breaking. I love the sense of humour your Mom had. My daughter was like that also. She just wanted to make it easier for all of us, as I'm sure your Mom did. Sending a hug and thinking of you.