I feel caught up in the sweep of the tide of time. The hours go by whether or not I want to participate. I have huge swathes of time where I am productive and to all appearances "normal," mostly through the early hours of the day, through work, through dinner time. It's after dinner, especially in the late evening when I should be getting ready for bed, that the sadness falls on me again. Some days it's worse than others, like this past weekend after a conversation with one of my siblings made everything seem raw, as if no time had passed at all. Then I'm useless. I should grade papers, do lesson plans, answer emails, but all I can do is stare at the wall or (endlessly, aimlessly) surf the web because thinking hurts.
I realized that my problem is I am struggling to come to grips with a reality I simply do not want to recognize. Eventually, I'll get used to it, but I don't want to get used to it, and just typing that makes me angry. This is not to say I've reached the "anger" stage of the grieving process. I'm not angry that my mother's dead, I don't begrudge her the peace she dearly earned. I'm just (mentally) thrashing around because there is no power that can change this and I just have to deal and I'm really, really bad at dealing with tragic disappointment.
I am lucky because I've had so few instances to deal with. When my father died, I was devastated but I had an infant to care for, and there's nothing so hopeful and busy-making as an 11-month-old baby. And God bless my father but the relationship I had with him was not like the one I had with my mother. He was not woven so thoroughly into my daily life. I told DH that I have this mental file of things I store to tell Mom, and it's still there, and it will probably always be there, now and forever overflowing because I'm never going to be able to talk to her (in a two-way conversation, anyway) in this life again.
That's not the only hole in my life, though. I feel mostly disconnected from my whole family, now, like Pluto in its distant orbit, demoted to a dwarf planet. While Mom was alive, we all had routines of when we'd call her and when we'd call each other. When Mom entered hospice and one of us with her 24/7, I could call any time, any day, and try to ease the burden a bit by providing company, even if it was long distance. Now all of our routines are out and everyone is in the same situation, trying to figure out our lives in this new Mom-less world.
I could call but then I get sad and thinking hurts and I don't want to talk so I don't call, propagating a vicious cycle of loneliness. I adore my games of Words With Friends because I imagine them like strands of spider-silk binding me to my sister. No one else probably thinks that way, but to me they're still a connection, however wispy.
I have a sense of having survived the holidays. I should post some photos; we got a new tree, and DD decorated the house again and everything looked lovely. I did the whole buy-all-the-gifts, do-all-the-cooking thing, for the most part, because that's what we've always done and I do enjoy it, but this year, oh -- it was all through a gray fog for me, and no one seemed to notice and that was fine because I just wanted the kids to have a normal Christmas -- up until New Year's Eve when we were driving home from California in a rental car because the van died on CA91 in Riverside (RIP, Bessie), when all that self-control just cracked and I broke down nearly as thoroughly as the van.
I guess not, though. You don't repair blown head gaskets in vans that are 16 years old with 175,000 miles on them. (Why, you may ask, did we drive the old car to CA? Because the service center assured us it was in perfect condition, having just completed the 27-point safety check and knowing we'd kept up the maintenance. I don't even want to think about how much money we put into keeping the van up just so we could eke a few more years out of it, only to have it just... die.) I feel similarly finished but manage to keep going anyway. If I felt this horrid all the time I'd look into treatment for depression, but it only gets me at night, and I'm still pretty much completely functional.
Disneyland was unbelievably packed but a total blast. I don't think I took a single photo while we were there but I did post a few to facebook: I actually went on (now called) HyperSpace Mountain with DH and really enjoyed it. That was a major accomplishment, because I was terrified before hand. The great thing about being at Disneyland is that we were so busy I didn't have much time to think, and I slept like a rock because we were doing so much walking around. Plus it was cold, so we dressed in layers, but crawling under the covers and getting truly warm was wonderful at the end of each day.
Physically I'm perhaps even more of a mess than I am emotionally. Still hearing that tinnitus in my right ear, and today that under-the-jaw thing, whatever it is, has been absolutely killing me, and ibuprofen is only barely taking the edge off. It is very distracting having such a noticeable pain! My diet has been horrendous and I am now trying to break myself of the sugar/carb addiction I've let myself fall into. Too many of my students gave me sweets, bless them. Next year: much more discipline with the indulging. I feel fat even though I'd be willing to bet that no one else can even tell I gained a few pounds. My reflux had been doing better until this afternoon when I torpedoed myself by having 1) a cup of coffee and 2) way too many Trader Joe's cheese puffs. (Mindless eating while on hold... not a good scenario.) Back to square one, which is limiting all carbs as much as possible until that heals.
I had an ultrasound of this neck thing last Wednesday. The radiologist was going to request the imaging studies from Banner MDA in October for comparison and decide if I need to go back in for a biopsy. (At this point I kind of just want to jam a needle into it and drain it, but I'm pretty sure that's not a recommended procedure.) For the first time I ever, I asked the technician if I could see the images when she was done. She was surprised but said yes, but also told me she wasn't going to read them. I explained that I've seen enough ultrasounds to know what a cancerous node looks like (you can't go by size, a better indicator is shape:firm, fixed, rounded; extensive blood vessels rather than just the little blips that are typical, and calcifications which show up like white spots.) The cool thing is, I didn't see anything that looked like that, but I admit, I glanced pretty quickly since I didn't want to take up too much of the technician's time. Still waiting on the results, but hoping to hear by the end of the week -- I don't think I'm stressed about it, but that's probably just denial on my part.
First up, and probably contributing to my acid reflux: science fair, just three weeks out. I absolutely cannot wait for it to be over. Shortly after, we're going to Savannah GA for a niece's wedding. In June, we're heading to MA for a nephew's wedding. We may stay in MA for some extra time so DD can look at colleges in the Boston area other than MIT, where she has set her heart, but we haven't made any plans yet. I want to hear about this neck thing first, and then I need to really decide whether or not to move to the new campus my charter school is opening in the fall. It will be literally 5 minutes from my house and only 2 miles away from the kids' school (for the 3 years they'll still be there...) and DH has told me he wants me to do it, but I am struggling with leaving my team. I love them. I've worked with a lot of people over the years and this is the finest group of people I have ever worked with. My team lead assured me that they'll still be around and we can get together, etc, but it won't be the same. I just have to decide if I have any professional ambitions at all right now, or if I just want to stay and be comfortable.
There's this feeling that as soon as I finish my Master's program, I'm going to be restless. I'm finishing up the project this semester, taking my last 2 science classes over the summer (history of science, philosophy of biology [just typing that makes me so happy! I will have stacks of reading but it's summer and I know I am going to love love love these classes]) so then next fall literally all I will have left is my thesis defense. So, if I'm helping to open a new school and being team lead for a bunch of newbie junior high teachers, I should be able to handle it, right?
Sometimes I feel invincible. Now is not one of those times.