It's been a rough couple weeks (?) since I last posted an entry... I'm not even sure that's an accurate estimate ---of time or feeling. I've been moving through these past weeks and days in a way that swings from complete numbness and doing what needs to be done because that's what I have to do to keep life even and solid for my husband and sons to feeling like the surge of emotion (sadness,anger,regret) will send me curled in a ball into a cave somewhere so I can just let the sorrow take over.
My mother passed away on Saturday, April 18. She passed in her sleep. For that I am happy. Her last full day was Friday...the day I posted about being Carole's daughter. I was able to be with her the entire day.....from 10 a.m. til nearly seven at night. She had a wonderful last day...as wonderful as anyone can hope for. We threw open the window in her hospital room....sunshine and a warm spring breeze. Her friends came to see her and spend time with her. (She'd 'ordered' me not to tell anyone that she was in the hospital. I decided that I'd spent much of my life rebelling against her dictates and orders, so I'd just keep that going. I called her friends Thurs. night. They came the next day.) Initially, she was rude and kind of b___y, but we all laughed at her and said it was good to see her being herself. She ended up laughing and joking and making plans to attend a party "just as soon as she was on her feet again."
When I left her that night, she was tired from a great day. She was smiling. I told her I loved her. I gave her a back rub. I hugged her and thanked her for being my mother. I told her I wouldn't be half the woman I am today if not for her.
My regret is that I didn't--at some point--go home and get my sons. I can't help feeling that I should have brought them to see her. I have to remind myself that, in many ways, I think Easter dinner was for them. She came, despite being in incredible physical pain and discomfort and she talked and joked with them. She gave them a last memory of their grandmother that was not shadowed with tubes and bags and IVs and hospital beds. They're seventeen. They understood about her illness; they wouldn't have been 'put off' by the hospital, but I believe that she truly didn't want to have them see her that way. And--for a change--I did what she wanted me to do. I can live with my regret.
My sister and I have been on such a ride of emotions.
Saturday the 18th was also my nephew Brian's second birthday. We went ahead and had his party. My mother would have found a way to kick our rearends if we hadn't. And it felt genuinely good to be able to celebrate a continuation of Carole's life on this earth...her grandson's birthday.
This month her oldest grandsons--my boys--will graduate from high school. I have to prepare for Senior Prom and plan a graduation party. I feel as if I've had no real time to grieve. And I wonder if this isn't Carole doing this...reminding me that this life and these annoying everyday and not-so-everyday events are really what it's all about. You only get one chance at these moments...there are no do-overs. Make the most of it.
I think the 'cave' I need to curl into is my studio. I need to draw and paint and create and do something to vent all this emotion I'm feeling. There's genuinely been no time. And I desperately want to forget everything else and just go in that room and shut the door and have at it. My studio is in what was once a small sitting room/bedroom next to my own bedroom...so every day I pass by it's door and think....I want to be in there.
But there are too many things that require me elsewhere.
This is the real struggle in being a woman and an artist. I am needed in so many ways, in so many other places, by so many people..... I can't just go in the cave and hide and wallow and vent my grief and anger and whatever else I'm feeling. I have to keep this in check and maintain the equalibrium of my home and family. I have to keep this all going as smoothly as a I can.
I know that my husband and sons would understand if I did do the cave thing... I just can't be that selfish right now.
Recently I had two events I had to 'dress up' for...you know, fancy clothes,heels,makeup,nice hair. Somehow, in my search for an inexpensive route to a new dress....I invoked Frida. I found a 'Frida-like' shirt at Target that could be worn with a voluminous skirt I have. I bought two--one purple,one black. For each event I carefully braided my hair and pinned it up--not top of the head,but behind the nape like younger Frida. I placed a flower in my hair. I wore carefully chosen earrings,necklace,bracelets.I wore red lipstick. Somehow, I felt that it gave me a strength--in this moment when I felt most painful and vulnerable--to 'be' Frida and invoke her strength and resillience as my own. It made me feel safe. Thank you Frida... viva la vida.
Give me time...I will get back into that little studio and throw open the window and let the sun in again. I promise.
P.S.--The pictures I posted...Frida, Brian,Wyeth,Warren---faces that give me strength and remind to live life as fully and beautifully as possible.