Tag Archives: reality

Grief: I lied. Spongy Surfaces.


I lied.

I lied I lied I lied.

Remember yesterday? You know, that post I wrote, not 24 hours ago where I said I was ready to transition, start a new chapter?

Lies. It’s all lies as it turns out.

I reread that post at bedtime and then bawled my head off, silently with that awful lump in the throat, for about … oh, 45 minutes. It was wrenching.


I was wondering where the hell the “bargaining” stage of Kubler-Ross’s renown death stages was.

Turns out it was here, lurking the whole time. Tsking its teeth and clearing its nails, waiting for me to feel semi-pre-Labor Day again.

It wasn’t classic bargaining, like where I’d say, “Take me instead!” or “What I wouldn’t give to ____” it was more like this:

Holy shit. I just realized I’ve never written in my own handwriting, until now [last night] any derivation of ‘my Mom [and] dead.’

And then the pain. The pain that said,

But you’ve written a check for her burial plot. And you wrote, edited and signed the death notice. And you picked out her burial clothes and put in a tube of lipstick. So you did all that. It’s not like you didn’t get it. It’s just that … you know: you didn’t get it. So here’s something, right now, to help you get it a little more.

I never got to say goodbye.

That’s the part that stings, like a … like a paper cut that goes super wide and super deep. Searing and humbling. Mom hated goodbyes. She always said, “See you soo-in,” in that funny way she pronounced certain words.

Bargaining. I’d’ve liked to have said goodbye to her. But she wouldn’t have, well, clearly didn’t allow it.

Lots of people, God bless ’em (and I mean that) say things like, “You know it was merciful; it was so much better (??) than a long, drawn-out illness.” And I totally get that, and I agree.

But the fact is: it was sort of long and drawn out. Mom didn’t have cancer. Mom didn’t have emphysema. Mom didn’t have a stroke or anything like that. But she did have issues. Her heart? That came out of freakin’ nowhere.

I mean: BOOYA. >God drops mic.<

“She must’ve just thrown a clot,” said a well-intentioned neighbor, Just. Like. That. Like how you or I might say, “That’s a lot of money for those tires.”

Mom had a bunch of -isms that literally sucked the lifeblood from her soul and her smile. I think about what she endured and for how long she endured it and I think, “Holy shit. She’s a freakin’ machine. Despite all her -isms, she kept it going….”

She could’ve checked out. Any time. Well, she sort of did, in certain ways, but not in The Big Way.

Things were unstable.

Instability. That’s where I am right now. And CS Lewis was right: when I was sad, am sad: Mom is far away. But the sad is sort of necessary now. Today.

I’m literally laughing over my shoulder at my Yesterday Me. Rolling my eyes. Thinking, “girrrrl, you have no clue about what the what is goin’ on. Just stop talkin’ ’bout a new chapter this and a let it go that… You are getting schooled every day… stop STOP with the expectations and the plans…”

And “Today Me” is totally right.

I journaled in my own handwriting last night for 45 minutes. Six pages. Big letters, exclamation points, woe, fear, regrets, jokes, anger, sarcasm, regret.


I have to remember this though: Mom set the tone. The guilt and regret I feel is utter bullshit. I know this. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the guilt is bullshit. As a child of my mother, or someone like her, we are raised in an environment where the leader sets the tone. Where the child simply gets in line, behaves as told, responds as allowed. Patterns form and behavior sets itself and life continues in that manner.

That’s what I mean by Mom set the tone. I wrote a post a lonnnnnng time ago, when I was in a state regarding her and some other people whose behavior reminded me of hers. It’s called “Be Careful Of What You Wish For“; and it touches hammers on the consequences that we as parents, or people in group dynamics actually, experience when we set up relationships the way we (unconsciously) do. Most of my posts on parenting come from my experiences as a child and now a parent and how I see that we all have choices we can make in behaviors we exhibit.

I slept like a wounded bear last night after I wrote. Morning came; the sky was dark and cloudy, heavy with the approaching rain. It started about two hours ago and I think it’s going to be a daylong affair.

I like days like this. They let me indulge in a blanket on the couch and a Hitchcock film. A cup of Earl Gray. After yoga.

I have friends and family who’ve reached out to me — in comments on the blog, in emails, in phone calls, texts,  artwork, meals, cards, hugs, smiles and packages of snacks that make me turn into a ravenous addict and they remind me: God is not far away. That beauty and love are still, always, here.

He works through them; maybe because He knows how daft we are and remembers what happened the last time He came down here and tried to show us who He was as a human…

When I feel most alone, these people reach out. They tell me I am absolutely not alone. They tell me my words help them. They tell me to be patient with myself. They tell me the surface is unstable. That it’s spongy. They tell me they understand.

And that is God.

Then I remember my own post about self-compassion and comparing my grief to a newborn, and I settle and remember I am also here for me too.

So soon I will write about the faceless chicken and show you pictures of the creepy undertakers. We’re talking Shakespearean. I will warn you ahead of time: I’m pulling no punches either.

But not today. Today I am on spongy land.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 18: #Consciousness #Darkness #Society #Light


Hello! If you have been keeping score, you would have noticed that my post yesterday on chaos and disorder actually posted twice this week (once Monday sheerly by user error and again yesterday “on time”), per the cosmic irony that out of all disorder, there is order. I came away from that little experience not at all ruffled in the least, but laughing actually at the premise that I really have no “control” over anything and that my our concept of control has always been an illusion.

I thought to myself, “Self, so it’s a few days early — it might be just on time for someone who reads it today instead of on Wednesday.” So true.

Welcome to Day 18 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

Here is today’s:

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ― C.G. Jung

Dark and light. If you’re even the slightest bit beyond “point and shoot” photography, this quote will strike you as essential when composing a good photo. I have seen too many “using the flash pics,” too many “get everyone in the photo” pics, too many “make sure everyone is looking at the camera” pics where they don’t tell the whole story.

So often, we strain to make life perfect, beautiful or endurable or “just so.”

Don’t. Please stop.

I’m not perfect, I’m opinionated as hell when it comes to what I’m about to say, but it’s really just my booming (it can boom) voice in the cacophony: I hate studio pics. I can’t stand the pictures that the kids bring home from the school to raise funds. I pay for them, yes, to give the school money, but the whole practice of it makes me yecch inside. My mother loves them: she loves to model for pictures, she loves to be prepared for photos. I don’t see life that way.

Now what I’m suggesting flies a bit off the cheek of what I said about “perfect photos”; I say off the cheek because I’ve not said it all, so here we go: in those so-called, not-perfect, unposed, candid moments is the truth of life, caught wonderfully by our cameras, but only one dimension.

We have a picture of our lovely Thing 1 at a family event about 13 years ago. He had to stop what he was doing to get in the photo. He was shy then and he’s still soft-spoken today, but he did not want to be in that pic. But it was Easter and it’s seldom that all the cousins (my in-laws’ grandchildren) are present so we mandated that he be in the frame. He was madder than a hornet! His eldest cousin is holding him, he’s sad in the photo and all that, but he did it. He groused at the camera, but he was in the frame, as well as his cousins either trying to cheer him up or the one who was holding him was showing her strain. The moment lasted for 10 seconds, setting all that up. A couple people debated: “Don’t put him in there, he’s so upset… it’ll ruin the picture…” all that, and I said, “No. He needs to get used to this and also, this IS LIFE, there is no ‘ruining’ of a photo… this is the truth of this moment” and I took the shot. My camera, my shot. No one else had their cameras.

The whole thing is a juxtaposition; there’s the attitude that leaving him out was the reality of the moment; but my in-laws requested a picture. Then there’s the part about being natural and unposed, but I used the phrase “setting all that up” above. Then I hear myself straining to make sense of it all, to twist it into a persuasive argument that candid shots are more real than posed. But in order to get a picture of all the kids, there had to be some posing (in the sense of fitting them all in the frame, but I didn’t ask them to put their chins in their hands and think of butterflies).

Argh. Moving on.

It is the “darkness” of that moment, I suppose, that made some of the onlookers uncomfortable. They didn’t like the reality, they preferred we gloss it over with a story about why my son wasn’t in the pic, “He didn’t want to be in the photo” doesn’t work for me. I so rarely ask for moments like that, where everyone stops what they’re doing that my stance is “deal with it.”

I love the pic and so do The Kids. They remember that shot, they remember setting up for it and how T1 behaved and they laugh about having to hold him and look at the camera and say “cheese!” in unison despite the raging hornet in their midst. I don’t know if they’d remember all other staged pics like that with quite as much fondness, so to me: mission accomplished.

Photos are so important to me. I have a bajillion on my my cameras and on my computer and in albums. They show us EVERYTHING if we are willing to let them. They show us what we chose to include and not include; they show us what we might’ve enhanced or touched up and what we could deal with or not deal with. For instance in mostly any interior shot of my home, there’s a laundry basket. There just is.

These are the darknesses, the realities of our lives. We must face them, without a flash, in natural light and let our eyes adjust to show us our own truths. I might even be so brazen as to add that in order to figure out some of this stuff we must “feel” our way out of it, use the emotions to settle it all; let it all pass through.

Life is not ever “just so.” To retouch it, to use a flash to see it better, to change its history completely either by omission or revision does NO ONE favors.

I loved this quote. It is replete with hope.

Thank you.

ps – if you’re in America, happy 4th of July.