Friday, January 22, 2010

Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Yesterday was my Mom Mom's funeral. To be honest, the last funeral I went to of someone who I was very close to was my grandfather 16 years ago. I saw family I hadn't seen in 16 years. I hugged people who I apparently have a blood relationship with. I tried to be strong and be positive in the most utter sadness. I read the first and second reading at her mass. I carried up the gifts. I delivered a small speech at the cemetery and my voice didn't crack once. Sure, the breakdowns were intermittent throughout these moments of strength. As the tears streamed down my face my mother asked, through her own tears, what was wrong. Nothing was wrong...I missed my Mom Mom that's all. Her departure from me was the best of circumstances. My last words to her were I love you. The last time I saw her she was waving goodbye at her front door as my mom and I drove away. She died peacefully, painlessly and with family by her side. Her funeral was sad but beautiful. We had a state police escort for the funeral procession and there was a bagpipe player at the cemetery. When I got home I felt tired and numb, a standard set of emotions for a person who has experienced such a loss.

Today I found out that one of my favorite patients in the Sister's infirmary has been on hospice. This was news to me. I also found out that she was on her deathbed. I was supposed to write her a letter and we'd correspond back and forth because we shared a love for writing. I never got around to writing that letter to her. I stood by her bed and apologized for that. I told her I loved her even though I didn't know her for very long. Her niece invited me to help her open birthday presents for my friend. It was a nice moment to share. She is expected to pass within the next 48 hours.

Today I also found out that I will owe over $100 a month for my student loans which are deferred through Americorps. I don't have to pay the interest, but it will be tacked on to the grand total of money I owe for the loans. That totals to an additional $600 I will have to pay back because I chose to volunteer for a year. This news made me angry and I was a bit snappy on the phone with my mother, a courageous woman who buried her own mother yesterday. I called two hours later to make amends.

Some other stuff came up and I had to call my mom again to talk it out with her. Stephen came in to remind me that community prayer was going on. I told him I wouldn't be there and made some stupid excuse. I was on the phone with my mom and the oven was preheating so I could eat pizza for dinner. He left my room, clearly disappointed that I wasn't praying with the community. Honestly, I'm in a rough spiritual spot. I am not in a place where I can pray in community with others. I need to just rebuild my spiritual life myself. Unfortunately after prayer I learned that one of my community members picked a special reading out with me in mind. The prayer was slightly focused on me and my loss. I wasn't there. I could sense disappointment in the room. At that moment I felt so incredibly ungrateful. Here my community is constantly keeping me in their prayers and trying to comfort me the best they can. The least I could do is attend community prayer and just allow their gesture of comfort and healing wash over me. But now, I was too wrapped up in myself again. Just as I was too wrapped up in myself that I forgot to write my infirmary friend a letter. Just as I was too wrapped up in the little things that I didn't exhaust every possible option with my lending institution to prevent $100 interest charges from accruing.

Now I'm sort of an unraveled mess. I picture my life as this situation: I'm in the ocean, enjoying it to the fullest on a warm summer day. Suddenly a giant wave knocks me down and sucks me under the surface. As I'm tossed and turned by the angry ocean, all I can do is wait to be spit out and resurface again. When this finally happens, I see the shore and I'm determined to swim back to it. As I start to paddle and position myself so the waves will carry me in, another wave knocks me down and sucks me under. This keeps happening until I wonder if I should continue trying to swim back to the shore or just let the waves keep sucking me under. No this scenario is not about death, but rather my fear to carry on with life. I am actually scared to try to enjoy life again. Things were almost perfect before my grandmother passed away. Life is full of ups and downs, I get that, but I figure that as soon as I establish a sort of happy normal state, another wave will knock me down and hold me under. They say death comes in threes and I'm just wondering who is next. What financial difficulty will I have to face? What horrible thing will happen to me, my family or my friends? This is an irrational and horrible attitude to have but I can't help it.

Another thing I worry about is the grief process itself. What if I still feel this way in a week? Will people get tired of me and tell me to get over it? I don't need excess attention or anything but if I'm still in a rut I hope people understand and don't think I'm milking it. When should I start to live a normal life again? When is it safe to try to make my way back to the shore?

I suppose I should pray for strength. The last thing I prayed for was humility and instead I got this. Part of me thinks I'm going crazy with my irrational fears. Another part of me thinks I'm fine and this is just the way I process death and unhappy times. Then I look at these two parts and wonder why I'm not sure about either. After that assessment, I get angry at God and ask Him why he puts people on Earth just to take them away from you. I mean look at Haiti, of all the countries to get hit with a natural disaster, the poorest and most needy country almost gets destroyed. What is the point of that? I'm not angry with God now but we're not speaking. I'm fine, I swear, I can probably convince the world that but the first person I have to convince is myself.

Until next time....

1 comment:

  1. MA ~ From one volunteer to another: trust your community. God puts us in particular places at particular times for a reason, and if your community members are as Christian as they seem from this blog, they're there to support you.

    The Sister who is director of my program recently mentioned to my community that as a culture, we don't grieve. After a loss, we pretend that everything gets better in a matter of days and that we can get back to "life as usual." This is both untrue and unhealthy. It's okay to allow yourself time for sorrow and grief. It's okay to be angry with God and for your spiritual life to be shaken.

    Know that you and your family are in my prayers.

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