To put it as directly as possible: my oldest daughter is dying, I’m a single Mom and life is a bit tough at present.
I realized that I was due for a magnificent stress relief yesterday. I was at the bus stop putting my daughter on her bus with my Mother at my side. It was not a regular moment, my Mom was in from Boston visiting myself and my children. I had let my daughter stay home all week from school so she could spend every waking moment within fingers’ reach of my Mom.
As the bus driver and bus monitor were raising my daughter in her wheelchair on the bus lift I looked over and saw my Mother’s eyes starting to well up with tears. My Mother has exceptionally bright blue eyes and I’ve noticed over the years that, for my mother, it makes it nearly impossible to hide tears.
For me, I hate crying. Once in a while I will let it out. However, if at all possible I make sure this embarrassing event only happens when I am completely alone, or within the company of my 4 children.
Intellectually, I know crying is healthy and good and all sorts of other bullshit, but I hate doing it for an audience. I think I would rather shit myself in public rather than cry in front of other people.
So as my daughter was being raised up by the wheelchair lift into the bus I noticed my mother started to sprout tears. I had to take action. Seeing her cry will make me cry and I panicked.
I so lovingly looked over at her and said “If you make me cry, I’ll punch you.”
It sounds pretty harsh. It was pretty harsh. But I think she, too, would rather cry (if at all) in private. My Mom has seen a lot of people she loves pass away. Both of her parents, her brothers, my brother’s wife, friends, friends children and lots of family. I can’t imagine how many silent cries she has had of her own.
So my threat was real but the punch would have been pretty weak. Seeing her cry makes me upset and once I let go, it might take a week to pick myself off the floor.
When my daughter was secured on the bus it drove away and we went inside. This was my Mom’s last day visiting us in Denver and she was rushing me to get her to the airport. My mother (and my father for the sake of record) like to get to the aiport suuuuuuuper early.
I, personally, like to arrive at the gateway to the gangway just as they are calling for final boarding and are about to close the door.
After we had gathered my Mom’s things and she said goodbye to my 3 other children we headed to the airport. She isn’t a big fan of listening to music in the car (I like to blare it) so naturally our time together turned to conversation.
I asked her why she was upset at seeing my Rachel going into the bus and the answer was pretty simple. She was upset seeing Rachel upset. Makes sense. We’ve been watching a formerly healthy Rachel decline for quite some time, affected by a really terrible, genetic, terminal neurological disease. Batten Disease. It doesn’t get worse than that.
We were talking about my Mom’s house back in Boston and their downstairs master suite they created. I had always thought that the room, my father’s former office, was converted to a giant bedroom to keep things neat and tidy. My Dad likes to collect stuff. A lot of stuff.
Yesterday I realized that my Mom created that suite, which was complete with hospital bed, to accommodate my daughter. Rachel had lost the ability to see and has been rapidly losing the ability to walk. My Mom felt it was unsafe to have Rachel climb a flight of stairs for their famous “Friday Sleepover” so she orchestrated a Rachel / Granny / Granddad retreat. This whole time I thought my Mom made my Dad’s office into a bedroom because she wanted to prevent him from messing the room up.
The very moment I realized that the whole thing was for my daughter was the moment I switched back into a different stage within the 5 stages of grief. I usually reside at 4769 Denial Drive out here in Denver Colorado but I was quickly moved onto 35 Grief Street. And I started to cry. My eyes welled up, my voice cracked…
And I left the room.
Being the brave “Queen of Denial” I kept it all together for the rest of the day. I hatched a mental plan during my drive home from Denver International Airport to watch an older movie that I very much loved. A movie I knew was sure to completely clear out my tear ducts. The movie date went well, I put out (tears) and I glued myself back together before sunrise.
If you ever need a good cry, consider watching 1998’s What Dreams May Come which stars the late Robin Williams.
My eyes have been blissfully swollen all day. I feel a renewed energy today to forge ahead and keep my shit together for my kids and for myself.
Here is a quote from the movie which I personally identify with (just read all of the “He” as “She”)
“He was a coward. Being strong, not giving up. It was just his place to hide
He pushed away the pain so hard he disconnected himself from the person he loved the most.
Sometimes when you win you lose.”
– Robin Williams (What Dreams May Come)