Saturday, December 14, 2013

Today is eleventh anniversary of my mother's death by shooting (by her own hand).

In recent years, I've sometimes passed this day, even this whole season, without much thought, or grief, or sense of horror, but this year I've been rummaging around in my memory, watercoloring bits and pieces she left behind, and the tender parts that had toughened up feel tenderized again.

That kitchen tool used to bludgeon meat, to tenderize it, comes to mind.
(Ah, I looked it up. It's called a meat mallet. Perfect.)

As these things tend to go, those tender spots got bumped and started throbbing. I went to bed sore last night at 6 PM and slept 14 hours.

I woke up this morning thinking of my mother in Heaven.
I don't believe in a literal Heaven, but there they all were, like the cast of a play, backstage--my aunts and uncles, my friends, my pets... (Bop the dog!)

And I got the feeling I could ask my mother for help.

That's not something I was able to do much during her lifetime, especially in the last dozen years of her life, as she was pulled closer and closer toward a black hole.

Pain can make people selfish, narcissistic. Like, how much can you actually care about the next guy when you have stomach flu? Maybe pain only makes us more empathetic once it has abated?

Anyway, as my mother's emotional pain increased, she pushed people away––even actually turning friends away from her door.

I sometimes say she died of self-imposed loneliness, sort of like an anorexic dies of hunger, sick with refusal of life-giving sustenance. (In a cruel feedback loop, the refusal is both a symptom and also a kind of cause of the sickness.)

David Foster Wallace, whose own depression drove him to suicide, captures the way terrible and unceasing emotional pain can create monstrous narcissism in his short story, "The Depressed Person."
(Read it here, or don't, if you're feeling vulnerable---he's merciless).

I was 41 when my mother died, and I hadn't asked for or expected much help from her for most of my 30s.
Increasingly, I also didn't (felt like couldn't) offer her much help, after practically wringing myself out for her.

 I loved my mother as much as I've ever loved anyone, and more than most, and she loved me deeply too. I know she would have always helped me if she could. The deterioration of our ability to help each other was one of the cruelest parts of her decline.

So, waking up feeling the possibility of asking her for help...
This is nice.

It feels like I could somehow help her this way, too; it restores her to being the person who was able to answer her door.

My mother took me to see the Beatles movie Help! when I was eleven. 

For more info on suicide prevention or help if you are struggling:
"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


The Crow said...

There is, I believe, a threshold between worlds, the ones occupied by the living and the one by the dead. I believe, also, that we sometimes have opportunities for connection such as the dream you had, as described above.

I've had similar ones, at thresholds - one amazingly as you described, peopled by humans and animals from my past, and I came away feeling reconnected. One person's message to me was so clear, just as the doorway was about to close, that I wrote it down upon waking. It is on my blogpage.

Almost everyone I've told these 'dreams' to tell me it is my imagination, my subconscious sleeping mind trying to work out something I encounter during my waking hours.

Maybe. But I choose to believe it is more than that. Another of those mysteries I keep trying to find an answer to, give a name to...I'll keep trying.

I also believe that these encounters are opportunities to offer and receive help. Glad you had your encounter, Fresca.

Michael Leddy said...

For whatever it’s worth, across the virtual distance, I’m sorry for your loss. To feel now that you can ask for your mother’s help must be a good feeling.

Fresca said...

CROW: Thanks for those lovely thoughts.
As for what's "real," I kind of like when Dumbledore tells Harry Potter: " "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?"

ZHOEN: "Pain is blinding." Yes! That's what I was trying to say.
Also, yes, "Not admirable, but understandable"--that sums up so much of being human!
Thanks for your words.

MICHAEL: It's worth a lot, don't you think? the virtual sympathy for loss (like in Virgil), and the recognition of goodness too.
Thanks for sending yours.

poodletail said...

11 years. It seems impossible. I am sorry for your loss, Fresca.

Fresca said...

Thanks, Poodle. I always remember your & Mr. Poodle's kindness in that dark time.