Tomorrow will mark 8 weeks since my mother passed away. That’s 56 days of living without my mother being physically present.
Every. Single. Day. I wonder how I’ve made it through another day without her here.
But I found a bit of truth tonight. It sort of hit me upside the head. Actually, I think it may have been my mother hitting me upside the head.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have an MA in Theatre. My MS and PhD studies focused on performance. It may not seem like it, but I’m a pretty damned good actor. Most people don’t know this about me. But I am.
With few exceptions over the last 8 weeks, I’ve been in a sort of perpetual “acting” mode. During the week of preparation for Mom’s wake and funeral, I combined that with my “stage manager” mode. But all the while, I was putting on a performance.
“I’m doing alright.”
“The holidays kept me pretty busy, so that helped.”
“I go visit Mom at the cemetery every week, that helps.”
“I have a lot of family and friends around me and they are really supportive, that helps.”
“Mom raised me well…she helped me prepare for times like this.”
The reality is…there’s no amount of preparation for times like this. The reality is…nothing helps. The reality is…I haven’t been doing alright.
I’ve been pretty depressed most of the time. I’ve covered it up pretty well.
It’s all in the illusion of keeping busy – baking, cooking, cleaning.
It’s all in using humor as a defense mechanism. “If I keep them laughing, they’ll never know I’m torn up inside.”
It’s all in keeping the responses short so I don’t have to talk about it.
It’s all in deflecting, changing the subject, getting the focus away from me. “I know it was hard, but did you have a good holiday, Carleen?” “Yeah, it was pretty quiet. How about you? Hey, did you get to see XYZ movie yet?”
So, what does this have to do with the truth I found today?
I came home from work and followed my usual routine: get in the house and drop the laptop; remove the coat; make sure the doors are all locked; grab the mail; get comfy at the kitchen table and go trough the mail, sorting it into “action piles”; get something to eat (if I’m hungry); head downstairs and say hi to the furbabies; make sure they have food, water, and clean litter; change out of work clothes; sit at the computer and check mail; putz around the computer until I’m tired enough to go to bed.
I do this every weekday. The routine doesn’t change.
Tonight, I found myself not just listening to my playlist on Spotify…tonight, I found myself singing along. I was tapping my feet to the beat of the music. I was enjoying it again.
Then I started paying attention to what I was hearing and singing. Interestingly, there are two songs on my playlist called “Stronger” – one by Kelly Clarkson and one by Melanie C.
Don’t judge my music, man.
I have my playlist set on “Random” – these two songs played back to back. A few more songs played and then Kelly’s “Stronger” played again. Now, it VERY rarely happens that a song is repeated so quickly. I didn’t think much about it. A couple of P!nk songs played, then will.i.am and Brittney Spears came through with “Scream & Shout” – I found myself doing a little chair dancing.
Then Kelly’s “Stronger” played again.
As I was sitting here, staring at my computer screen, “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas played. That’s when I knew. I just knew that my mother was telling me to get my shit together.
You see, my Grandmother actually really liked “Boom Boom Pow.” Whenever it came on the radio while we were driving somewhere, Gram’s hands and feet would start tapping and her head would bob to the beat of the music. She didn’t listen to the lyrics…she just liked the music. (I think if she ever knew what they were saying, her brain might have started leaking out of her ear.)
When Mom and I traveled to Orlando for GCLS one year, we stopped at a Wal-Mart to take a break and walk around a bit. We decided to get a little music to listen to during the drive. We each decided to pick a CD. Since I found 2 that were really inexpensive, I got to get both. I chose Bette Midler and The Andrew Sisters.
I told you not to judge my music!
Mom chose the Black Eyed Peas. MOM chose the Black Eyed Peas.
Every time I hear a song by the Black Eyed Peas, I think of my grandmother and my mother.
This was my sign…a message from Mom and Gram.
It’s time to break out of the depression and rise above my grief.
There will still be grief…for a long time. I know the grieving isn’t going to end any time soon. Yes, I know that.
But the depression has to stop. The acting has to stop.
My truth for this Friday – My mother is no longer on this Earth, but she is with me. She will always be with me. So I don’t have to wonder how I’ve made it through another day without her here.
Because while she is not here in body, I know that her spirit is always with me…and she’ll kick my ass if I forget it. So, yeah, I truly believe that Mom smacked me.
I’m glad you got the message, Carleen. I’m a lot like you, but I’ve learned that if I surround myself with true friends, the mask is never necessary. You have many true friends, doll. Be exactly who you are and know that you are loved for exactly that.
Masks can be useful to get through the hard parts of life. But if it a real gift to know when it’s time to take them off and show your real face–even if just to yourself at first. Head up, girlfriend. You’re doing great.