Pondering My Own Identity…

Originally posted on CaringBridge~Monday, July 14th, 2009:

I was not sure what I was supposed to do now. I know it sounded funny, but I was Heather’s care giver for a year. It was not just meeting the needs of a sick child, but everything from the worry and stress to taking her temp, PICC line flushes, all the pills and appointments. At the time, it did not seem like a lot. Now that she was gone, I felt like I had nothing to do. I had LOTS of things that I could be doing, but I just did not feel like doing any of them. I could clean the house and really go through things and weed out all the junk. I could finish the thanks you notes that needed to be mailed. I could crochet the blankets that I really needed to finish. I could go to the grocery store and cook a fantastic dinner—ya right. But I didn’t feel like doing any of those things.

Most of my days were spent hanging out in my nightgown until late in the afternoon. Only when I really needed to go somewhere did I get dressed. Soon afterward I had been able to crochet and managed to finish a baby blanket that I needed to get done. All I felt like eating was junk and that was catching up with me quickly. I ordered Pizza Hut pasta, wings and bread sticks at least once a week. It was all so bad to eat and yet it made me feel better. Comfort food I guess.

After April 20th everything looked, sounded, tasted and felt different. Restaurants that I could go in and have a meal were now off limits. Songs on the radio had a different meaning like I was hearing them for the first time only they meant different things now. Movies I had watched before Heather died now seemed to have hidden meanings that I had never noticed. I had buried my daughter and that was something I had never thought, dreamed or expected to ever do. The feeling of being me was different and I felt like I did not know who I was. I had a new title placed on me—Grieving Mother.

I had very little patience with the crazy statements that people have said to me. I understood that many people did not know what to say and they wanted to make the hurt go away. The truth was that no one can make my hurt go away and sharing with me about their 84 year old grandmother who died from cancer was not helping. She lived a full life and Heather did not. It really did not help to hear about other people’s tragedy. Despite the saying, misery does not like company. I felt like people had to relate to my pain somehow. Unless you had a daughter named Heather, with the same DNA, and all the same events happened to her you could not know how I felt. This was my pain, my hurt and I needed to be allowed to share my feelings.

In this country we have certain rights of freedom. They are spelled out in The Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It gives us the right to stand up and defend ourselves if someone violates them. You cannot imagine when someone has a serious illness the amount of stupid, sorry but the word fits, things that people say. When someone dies that amount goes off the charts. I had heard just about everything with cancer and then Heather died and stupid became common.

Here are a few of the statements:

“At least we had 21 years with Heather”
I was selfish and wanted my lifetime.

“Heather was with Jesus and was healthy”
We know where she is, but that does not help at all.

“Heather was not suffering any more”
She is not, but we are suffering beyond belief.

This was just a few of the things I had heard. Just like when you have the flu and you have been throwing up for two days, you don’t want to hear, “this will pass in time.”

It had only been about eight weeks since Heather had died and I felt like I missed her more at that time than I did the day she died, if that was possible. Shopping and eating at our usually places took on a whole new meaning. I could picture being at those places with her and expected her to come walking up at any moment. She had worked at Kohl’s Department Store for two years and just walking in felt like she should be there. The Target close by our house was the last store we went shopping in before she died. Chili’s restaurant was off limits as I could not bear to walk in the door. We always went there the night before Heather went into the hospital for her “last meal” before chemo treatments and she loved the endless chips and salsa.

I wish I could have been so fortunate as to have unexpected breakdowns in the privacy of my own home instead of the chiropractors office, Subway and the Hallmark store. I felt so foolish that I could not control myself; I cried uncontrollably and really could not utter any words. I had never experienced a cry like that in my entire life before Heather died. Most people looked at me and wondered what planet I was from. For some reason grief was better if it was left at home where no one could see it. Everyone wanted to see that I was coping and doing fine. They asked how I was doing, but underneath they were hoping I would say fine and not really tell them how I was doing.

 “A rulebook that says it is all right to wake up crying for a month. That after 42 days you will no longer turn with your heart racing, certain you have heard her call out your name. That there will be no fine imposed if you feel the need to clean out her desk; take down her artwork from the refrigerator. That it’s okay to measure the time she has been gone, the way we once measured her birthdays”

~My Sister’s Keeper~

Photo~Heather during cancer treatments laying around with the cat. She loved cats to lay with her whether they wanted to or not.

 

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