A year ago today, it was the first week of school and I woke up at 4am, left the house before my children were awake and drove toward a hurricane. As with many other Texans, it turned out to be a day that left its mark and has forever changed me. Yes, I survived the massive flooding in Houston that came with Hurricane Harvey. But I also survived losing the most important person in my life. And I survived them happening at the same time.
Let me tell you, grief feels like a never ending pit of quicksand. It grabs hold of you and sucks you in. You struggle to get out and some days you make progress while other days you are drowning alive. I woke up today feeling so very heavy. Technically, tomorrow is the anniversary of Mimi’s passing but my body remembers it as that first Friday of school, which is today. I woke up in the early morning hours while the world was still dark and I had a sense of panic about me- like I was reliving that day all over again.
For the past year, I have been in this numb state of limbo. I have experienced change and trauma and stress like none other…an emergency surgery, the loss of Mimi, an unexpected move, a major renovation and the shocking, unexpected loss of my mother. It has been a trying year to say the very least.
With every blow suffered I would just pickup and keep pushing forward. Because that is what I have always done. Each time, I was carrying more baggage than the day before. This summer I hit a wall. My load had become too heavy. I simply couldn’t do it anymore. Without even realizing it, I had spent the last year painting a smile on my face and pretending like everything was okay. I wasn’t intentionally trying to act unauthentic, it just kinda happened.
I woke up one morning this summer and realized I was done. I had visions that I was drowning in river rapids, trying desperately to catch on to anything that I could to pull myself out but my grip kept slipping. The vision was so very real and it was paralyzing. I immediately started weeping and couldn’t breathe. All at once I knew what the vision meant. It meant that I could no longer keep moving forward this way. I was mentally and physically through and I needed help.
Just coming to the realization and opening up to my husband and close friends about my feelings was life giving for me. I have started therapy and am slowly digging myself out of the hole. It is a massive hole and will certainly take some time. In a therapy session last week I had visions that I was a ping pong ball bouncing all around in mass chaos. Never stopping. Never resting. Not knowing which was I was going next. It perfectly describes how I have felt this past year… all over the place. Like I don’t have “home base” anymore. Like I am unsure of what I am doing, where I am going, what my purpose is. I am pinging from place to place to place, with no meaning or reasoning. I don’t know who I am anymore.In the midst of all this “pinging”, I have been emotionally numb to true joy. So many moments over the past year have been of deep sadness. But there have been plenty of joyful moments too. I just haven’t been able to actually feel the joy in those moments. Sure, I smile and laugh and look the part. But my core doesn’t feel it. At least not the way I used too. So, I have been “pinging” around in this numb state of confusion and indifference for the past year. When Mimi died, it was as if I lost my tether and have felt like I am “pinging” around in space with no safe space, no “home” since then. For 37 years, she was my constant and without her in my life as that constant, I don’t know where I stand. At least that is what my heart has been telling me.
Grief of this magnitude is like nothing I have ever experienced before. And frankly, I hope that I never experience it again. I wish it on no one. It is overwhelming, all encompassing and life altering to say the least. Deep loss changes you forever. I feel like I am disconnected and have lost myself. I know that I will never be the same because after something so life altering, it is impossible but I am not sure who the “new” me even is. Or what that means.
When Mimi was unconscious in her last hours, we were able to have a final conversation. She was physically sleeping but mentally awake. It is a strange but miraculous phenomenon of the dying. And remembering those moments has been such a gift over the past year. One of the last things she said to me was, “Be strong”. At the time, through tears, I told her that I would but that I would miss her terribly. I had no idea just how hard “being strong” would be.
I don’t write this for sympathy. I don’t write this for shock value. I am writing this for me. Because pinning my emotions and thoughts is healing for me. Getting these emotions out of my head is calming for me. I am also writing this so that she is remembered. The world is remembering today as the day before Hurricane Harvey. The day before mass devastation across the coast. I lived through that too. It was terrifying and horrific all on its own. But I don’t want Mimi forgotten. She happened too.I am trying to fulfill my promise to be strong. I am trying to heal. I am trying to move forward. But there is still a void. And I am not sure how to move forward with such a large piece of me missing. I am taking a lot of measures to be kind to myself, to try and find the joy that I have lost and to heal. I always considered myself to be a strong person. But over the last 12 months, I am not so sure. What I am sure of is the community of friends and family, and even clients and strangers, who have rallied around me. Without so many of you, I would be in much worse shape than I am. I am forever grateful for your prayers, texts, emails, cards, offers for childcare and coffee dates. Every single act of kindness and love on your part has been life giving to me and I can am forever indebted. Much love friends.