Rejoice Life, Accept Death

With many friends who have lost their mamas, I love you. This was written 1/31/2017, mom’s fifth anniversary of her passing. 


I received the phone call shortly after 8:00pm.


“Sis, I’m at the hospital with mom. She’s in ER. Heart attack.”

“I’m on my way, brotha.”

On my down, a drive spanning 10 miles, a parking lot appeared and it was time to enter.

Mom was conscious. In PAIN. Excruciating, adulterated PAIN. Massive coronary attack.

She saw me enter the room. In an almost apologetic tone, in between audible groans “I’m trying to be a good patient.”

Stroking her silver hair, I told her I was right there with her; the helpless reality, knowing there was nothing I could do to alleviate her physical pain.

I remember someone on the hospital staff sticking some clipboard in my face.

“Your mom needs to sign this release.”

My brain asked, “Are you f*cking kidding me? My mother is having a massive heart attack!”

The haze of this particular memory is thick, though somewhere along the line, hospital needed a credit card for a $50 charge.

To my then-husband:

“I need our credit card.”

“What for.”

Some sort of argument a minute or two and whatever needed to be paid complete.

In the meantime, no relief for mom. 

“Where’s _____(my daughter)? She needs to be here?

And with that, her dad took off, making the drive from Orange County to LA to pick up our kid at college. I remain grateful for that. 

By the time my girl arrived at the hospital, her Nana had been sedated, as doc and company did what they could to place a stent.

Wasn’t gonna happen. Clogged arteries had taken a toll on her precious heart.

A few more hours pass as mom lay in her ICU room. By 2:30am-ish, in a tiny room down the hallway, in what seemed like a muddled dream, the words “I’m afraid she’s not going to make it” were heard, though not clearly absorbed. 

Those hours, the ones before the nurses would disassemble her breathing machinery, were spent holding her hands; me on one side, my girl, the other. By then, my brother had gone home to rest a bit and bring back mom’s DNR and living trust to the hospital.

Slowly, a soft sunrise filled her window overlooking the harbor; the glorious scattering of lightness appeared. 

“It’s almost time.”

Family gathered, our time to say so long. No machines. Peaceful, yet shallow breaths, my thoughts of how beautiful her skin looked. At seventy-seven, I took in all of her; face, being, living self, as to remember the beautiful soul who was my mother. Knowing it was almost over, those moments spent, the gratitude for being with her, my Jersey girl was gone. 

To be with one you love immensely when they pass is an honor and a privilege. 

“See ya at the beach, Mama. Be at peace.”

Life has never been the same since. Losing a parent, no matter what age, is cause for reflection. I rejoice life because of mom. What a privilege it was and how proud I am to be her daughter. 💜


We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Touching Grief: Reconciling Ourselves

Blogging on estrangement, divorce and grieving issues wasn’t exactly the platform planned. 

Years later, welcome to my world. 

Recently remarried to a beautiful human, so too, a marriage of sorts between the past, present and future. And while I continue assimilating the three, new questions arise; step-family, step-daughters, ex-husband, new husband, estranged daughters. The latter, though much further along, the daunting feelings of estrangement never completely dissolve.  My daughters are put on a quiet shelf, away from daily routines, visible enough to remember how I got here, yet tucked neatly in a corner, far from the angst I once labored over for years. That said, I am compelled to write about something I can do little about – the caveat being my thoughts placed in blogging form, to touch you and others, to think and restore a semblance of peace and solitude. 

Reading one post after another, whether it be adult children cutting off  parents or parents disowning their adult children – family estrangement is rampant, common, heartbreaking, devastating. It is a death unlike anything else. Grieving someone who no longer chooses you in their life, also unlike anything else. 

A beautiful piece, written by Katherine Schafler, (Highly recommended) gives us pause regarding the multiple reasons for grief: 

Here are some examples of events that cause grieving:

A break up

The selling of your childhood home

What you always wanted but never got

A person who died

A person who is still alive but is electively absent in your life

The loss of a dream

Divorce

Infertility

Loving someone who is self-destructive

The loss of a pet

The end of a friendship

Job loss or the end of a career

Them there’s some good stuff to grieve on. While certainly the death of my mom, dad-in-law and divorce all took place in a span of a year (2012) nothing could prepare one the grief of estrangement between a parent and kid. Hence, more thoughts to share….

Reconcile with yo self.

Estrangement discombobulates; it causes such harm in one’s psyche. For many, it is the only way to cope with pain, the mechanism towards self-healing.  For others, reconciliation might help in making us better human beings. Yet first, we must first reconcile with ourselves.

Estrangmement….there is shame, there is silence, there is sadness. 

But……there is life to be lived. 

When my children cut me out of their lives, though completely understandable at the time, never, ever, is one prepared. As if THAT would EVER happen to ME.  Barely functioning towards the end of my marriage and throughout the divorce mediation process, I turned to journaling, a refuge, a free and safe haven, little judgement. Incognito, no one needed to know who I was as I wrote anonymously, fearfully; the impossible task of finding words to link with my thoughts. Eventually, though, I began to speak truthfully, if not for anyone else, the opportunity to beat the necessary crap out of myself in order to gain the insight needed. 

Repeat: Reconcile with yo self.

Somewhere along the way, I made the decision to talk more openly; vulnerability without over sharing.  My own estrangement, of course, years to develop enough chutzpah in doing so. That chutzpah is on a continuum, silence is no longer an option I choose. I write not as a victim of circumstance, self-pity or these-bad-things-keep-happening-to-me moments as I once did. Now, speaking with purpose, writing is for the ones who are fearful to let others know they have estranged themselves from their mom or dad; others, like me, parents rejected by their adult children. I now come from a place of hard-earned empathy, compassion and eminent care. I wish to listen and understand. 

Whatever the reason you have been cut off; sweet, dear ones, I implore you, leave them be. They are the one who made the decision, not you. Timetables are yours to follow, no one else’s. At first the journey towards acceptance is unbearable. Slowly, grieving takes hold and you will learn to live without your person. You will ask, time and again, how can I live without the love of a child raised into young adulthood or a parent who once loved me, now a stranger? Is it even possible to move forward? Where to begin in the journey, despite the rejection? Am I worthy? Will I ever believe I am still worthy? 

Whatever reason you cut a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, cousin out of your life; sweet, dear ones, I implore you, lest not be judged by others, allow yourself time.  Perhaps you are a better human without your parents or adult children. No one can say, no one is in your place of hurt. I’m sure your decision was made with a great deal of pain no one can comprehend. My hope is you find the peace you seek. 

Kids, you can’t make someone see what you see, believe what you believe. As much as you yearn for the other to turn around, long to hear their voice, begin a new dialogue;  hope your parent won’t ever reach out to you, long to never hear their voice or begin a new dialogue, please be mindful of the other. 

Biggest life lesson during the past five years is simply this: reconciliation of estrangement begins with you. Dig deep, acknowledge your frailties, admit your weaknesses, own poor decisions. There’s a huge difference between bashing oneself and taking thoughtful inventory of self-personhood. It is then, pain, once the center of your universe, will then slowly begin subsiding. 

You will love again. You will laugh, smile, breathe, rejoice. Perspectives will change, life will be different. Your path isn’t finished. Look at yourself and all the wonder you exude. People respect and honor you for many reasons, even if your kid or parent doesn’t. Celebrate yourself. May healing be on your own terms, own time; grieve without apology. Touch it and keep on. 

We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

 

 

 

Birthday Love, Exhaustion and Hope

The cornucopia of life; all its glories, disappointments, joys and upheavals. Bring it.

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She continues touching my life. Legacy forever, baby. (2010)
How blessed we were to have her for seventy-seven years. Each birthday, celebration matters, whether she be here or not, for those we love, those who touched our lives, lives on infinitely. 

Life holds such wonder, such pain. Mom’s birthday sparks both equally. The wonder of life, how we learn to meander and glide, while traipsing the precious and tender landscape. 

I am getting married next month – a decision not made impulsively, kids, that I assure you. Divorced five years this December, thoughts of remarriage used to be right up there with root canals and scuba diving on what I’d-never-like-to-do-again-while-living-on-this-planet list. 

Today I am happy. I am content and at peace with the person I am. Self-reflection, as brutal as it is, I highly recommend the pain. The outcome will surprise. 

Yet, within my happiness and wonder, my upcoming nuptials are somewhat marred by a little issue called estrangement. 

Estrangement is exhausting. To purposely keep silent, I choose not to anymore. It’s real and a part of my life. I do not dwell or languish in misery. I wish to educate and disseminate the shame. I’ve learned to cope with our estrangement on a daily basis. Certainly, triggers still rise and when they do, some catch my breath more than others. For a long time, my fear derided my yearning to move forward – that perhaps if I remarried, I would certainly lose my girls forever. Perhaps I already have. Silence is racked with the unknown. 

Thus, after many a prayer, in addition to a bevy of thoughts and questions, I came to the conclusion to marry without directly telling my children. 

Here’s lies the dilemma: if I don’t tell them, I’m an uncaring and selfish mother. If I say something, I’m an uncaring and selfish mother. Each time I’ve reached out, my attempts are met with anger and fear, anxiety and disdain, not to mention how their reactions affect my own psyche. So, why put them and myself through more needless trauma, for after five years of estrangement, how to reconnect when we’ve remained strangers all these years?  

They do not know my current life, how I got here, nor do I know theirs. No longer part of either one’s journey, we are entrenched in a specific moment of time; only what we know of our pasts as mother and daughters or the occasional hearsay from a third-party. No direct contact makes for little understanding of the other. Other people’s responses are their’s alone, including my children.  I re-learn to let go of what they think of me, how I am judged or perceived – the most exhausting component. 

All of which brings me to this: strangers or not, I am their mother, they are my daughters. While doors remain open, grieving ones who are still alive, love is that more poignant. The love is alive and well. Forever. I wish them happiness in abundance. Hope lives on as does life. 

Happy Birthday, my wondrous mama. Thank you for giving me life, for breathing life into me. I love the way you loved me. 

 

 

 

 

Blessings of the Miserable 

Hey kids, welcome to this moment. 

Estrangement is alive and well in our world. It pretty much is here to stay. 

People who cut others off, I feel you. 

People who are the recipients of those cut off, I feel you too. 

There’s so much to take care of in a lifetime. Relationships are hard. They take work, nurturing, patience, listening, talking. Meaningful relationships are on a continuum. There are no finish lines. Even upon death, the depths of the continuum carry those who are still breathing. 

Estrangement has touched my life across the board. Families, once in tact, now fragments of each other, unable or unwilling to work together, result in deep pain for all involved. This is why my compelling nature must write. If not a voice, who then, is left to understand? 

But here’s the dealio…

Others are struggling far more than you or I. They are battling cancer, sick babies, poverty, death of a parent, death of a child, holding onto jobs, lack of healthcare, retaining sanity. The struggle is real. Perspective matters. 

Woody Allen says to Annie Hall:

“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.”

Thank God my children are alive and thriving by taking care of themselves. Thank God they are still here and I am still here. And thank God for faith in being one of the miserable ones. We are blessed. 😘

We’ll find each other soon. 💜

Mother’s Day Just Got Real

Not all mom’s are equal, nor are children. I wasn’t going to write on Mother’s Day this year, though alas, here I be. 

Motherhood transcends Sunday brunch, breakfast in bed, a fresh flower, sleeping in. One of the most realistic representations of Mother’s Day comes from one of my fav shows, “The Middle”, wherein mom Frankie wishes to be left alone on Mother’s Day, only to have missed out on a grand time at the local amusement park the rest of the family partook upon granting mom her time alone for the day. Comedy ensues when dad and the kids try to replicate the same experience when they take mom back to the park the following weekend. Yeah, that goes well. 🙂 

 

When my mom was alive, so often we laughed at the absurdity of Mother’s Day, as if to celebrate this day was more meaningful than all the other days we loved each other. With my own children, the homemade cards, purchased cards, sweet writings granted, appreciated, though more days than not, I felt their love and appreciation. 

It’s ok if Mother’s Day isn’t the best day. If you’re hurting, that’s ok, too. Be kind to yourself. Mom’s are people, as are their kids. They are bonded, though not conjoined. They see themselves in each other; positive and negative. Go with it. Learn yourself by learning your mom. It’s going to be ok. Trust me on this. My fifth season of estrangement from my girls, I’m ok. They continue to separate themselves from me. The loss is felt. Oh, my, is it felt. I’m carrying on, loving them as always, proud of motherhood, grateful for the years we were together. My door, always wide open for my girls, I have four soon-to-be stepdaughters, as I’m learning motherhood transcends my own children.

Caring thoughts for those who aren’t best friends with their moms, lost a mom, wish they were moms, or were abused by a mom. You are loved….so, so, loved. 

And huzzah for those who are best friends with their mom. You are blessed! May you have the ultimate Sunday brunch. 

Hug your mom, though understand it’s ok if you don’t want to. 

Bouquets of love to beautiful, yous. 

We’ll find each other soon. ❤

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When Can I Let Them Go?

I had been away somewhere, not too far from home. The time way is somewhat fuzzy, though long enough that my girls took notice when I returned. 

Walking up to the big house we lived in for twelve years, through the large living room window, I could see my youngest, about five years old. Holding her sweet stuffed animal, Sammy the bear, dancing in front of the television, mimicking the onscreen characters. 

Once inside, I quietly watched her joyously dancing. Before saying hello, I decided to look for her older sister first. In a whisper, I walked down the hallway, “Hello…..anybody home?” Sitting on the floor, meticulously working with construction paper and scissors, my nine-year-old looked up. Without missing a beat of her activity, “Hi Mom!”  Smiling, I sat down on the floor, when my five-year-old pranced in, plopping herself in my lap. Hair freshly washed, the mixture of shampoo and her natural self, cuddling her, I buried my nose and took it all in.

The three of us, mom and two daughters, sharing a sweet moment in a bedroom.  

Waking up, sweet comfort of a dream. 

I suppose dreams are not simply arbitrary. There is meaning. 

For sometime, debating whether or not to reach out, to let my girls know of my impending marriage; wavering, what’s best for them, for me. Five years estranged, the girls, now twenty-seven and twenty-two, the dream permeating my heart, I’m still unsure what to do. 

Though cut off, those years and moments of comfort, many more than not, I am reminded the love and joy of motherhood. Estrangement won’t ever break the joy once lived. The girls will be angry and hurt, their mother is getting remarried. They may decide to sever our ties even further or perhaps, permanently. 

The risk of rejection always lingers.

The past five years, each time reaching out, each time, they lash out in anger or cope by complete silence. Do I wish to continue receiving? Shall I marry and never say anything? Are they better off finding out from others, their mom remarried without telling them first? Does any of this matter?c729c9369b7a97208cd0de0b291654c5

I don’t know what I feel. I only want to love them, live a life with people I love, people who love me, a life of peace. 

The girls I love so dearly, their disdain sticks and I can’t release it long enough to reach out anymore. 

Our lives are our own. We’ll find each other soon. ❤ 

Opting for Vulnerability

Why don’t you just call them, send them a letter, email or text?

If only that simple.

Welcome to more misconceptions about estrangement.

Why explain?

If it seems as if I repeat certain thoughts, I am. This is complex stuff and not easily explained nor neatly organized. I write to express – a keen desire to possibly help another; a cathartic release, a way towards acceptance, an outlet of grief.

In 2011, I began writing on the down low on another blog anonymously, where upon there came a time of redemption and a beginning of another transition in my grief process. The shame of estrangement, too great at the time, I was able to cover a mass of feelings incognito. It’s taken me years to open up and talk about the discomfort of estrangement – not exactly a topic of dinner conversation with friends. People shirk and shake their heads, don’t know what to say, feel sorry for you, pity, shameful, as if us who are estranged are solely and surely at fault. Judgement is at the core. I get this. Profoundly. Once you’re on the defense of consequences made, you become more empathetic to those who judge. Admittedly, the tendency to judge others still exists, yet, a heftier respect for the process of critical thinking is far stronger than ever.

As dear Dr. Joshua Coleman laments, “there is always a kernel of truth” in why one chooses to estrange. AND…there is always accountability, ownership and responsibility for one’s actions. Long gone are reflections of “someone else’s fault” – to a point. My children are right on about me making horrendous decisions. Those were mine and no one else’s. Their rage, anger, disbelief of a mom they once loved and adored, shattered. The remorse can not be put into neat and tidy words, though vulnerability opens doors that shred shame. It’s not a question of right or wrong. Their realities, their convictions tightly grip any notion for change. 

Don’t you worry your kids will discover your blog? What would they think? Won’t your blog further their alienation? 

Gotta love the “what if’s.” They have chosen to distance themselves. That is their choice, their life. They deserve to be themselves, to express as they wish and believe.

I opt for vulnerability.

My writing consists of issues such as divorce, death of a parents, estrangement from your adult kid and family…you know, the kind of light subject matter one loves to read about. Only now, I’m less fearful of being found out, fearful my children might discover it’s me, their mom. What is this fear all about?

A year evolves into two, three and beyond. Now coming in to my fifth season, the reasons for estrangement mean less than they once did. The “why’s” become less significant, replaced with a sadness, dismay and disbelief my life is without my adult children.

For the first few years of the estrangement, I reached out numerous times. At first, the emails, an array of apologies, sorrowful remorse in my attempts to connect. In the beginning, reaching out without a clue of what to say or how to approach, mistakes made upon mistakes. My tone, one of love and compassion, came out as weak, as one who hadn’t grown much, desperate for their acceptance and forgiveness. While the reasons themselves are not wrong, the approach was urgent and desperate for validation.  Birthdays and holidays were acknowledged. I sent gifts to my younger girl when away at college, care packages of love, nothing else. All gifts were sent with love, hoping the love would be strong enough to warrant healing for us all.
Looking back, I cringe at my lack of insight, yet now understanding I didn’t understand. I had little idea how to handle myself, let alone my adult children. I’m sure I came across as insincere, one who hadn’t suffered the consequences of my actions to a point of renewing any sort of trust. Once a mother breaks the bond of trust with her kid, well, nothing can ever be the same again.

Estrangement teaches me unconditional love is not enough for reconciliation. If I just love them more, tell them how much, without expectations, that I’ll always be here when needed, surely that will make a difference. How wrong I have been. Reconciliation can only occur when both parties desire to reconcile. 

When a parent is told to let go, to please not contact anymore, to stay away, told they are sick, unwanted, there comes a time, some sort of acceptance must prevail or one shall lose their mind. One must eventually choose how they wish to live. In order to get to that place, one has to face themselves first, then go through a lotta shit. It’s the recipe for growth, kids. No short cuts.

Insight comes. It will continue in bigger waves. The yearning to learn, to make my life positive despite divorce, despite loss of the life I once had for many years, forced me to reckon with myself.

With acceptance, comes intrinsic peace. The longing is always there. My life has moved forward in astounding ways. I’m in a solid and loving relationship, the blending of families evolves. More of that story to come. Today, a full and healthier life, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. And in my new-found joy, a huge piece is still missing.

What feels right these days is vulnerability. Confronting pain, sitting with it, is vital in the process to becoming the person I should have always been. I am grateful. 

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More later…

We’ll find each other soon. ❤