Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Monday, April 05, 2004

I guess that makes it... let's see... "despair."

I’m tired. I’m really, really tired.

This weekend wasn’t all cake and jellybeans. Not that it was supposed to be that way, just that it was our first (and last) weekend in (and for) weeks without anything planned. By the time I got home from work and was settled on Friday, I felt sugar poisoned and fatigued. (Thank you, bulk candy store.) My magazines and books were calling to me, but Brooke wanted to go out. Out and do what, no one’s really sure, but out nonetheless. I pawed through the yellow pages looking for something that might be fun and not too tiring, but by the time I had established that “Roller Rink” wasn’t an SBC-approved listing, Brooke was asleep on the other end of the couch.

Saturday afternoon and evening, I felt wholly antisocial, and even though Brooke was again inclined to “do something,” I made cookies and cleaned in between adding ingredients to the KitchenAid. I do mean that I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Our junk is in much neater piles now, and much of it is stored away in big Rubber Maid tubs.

The time change screwed with me in a way it never has before, and I woke up far too late to make it to the church steps to sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” while waggling leaves at the interim pastor. I spent the rest of the day swinging from extreme mood to extreme mood, occasionally stopping in to upset Brooke in one way or another. In the end, she upset me too, and we did our separate things that evening. Mine, again, revolved around cleaning. We both went to bed angry.

Backing up for a moment—it’s important that I mention my bad dream from Saturday night. My mother was alive but dying, and she was able to speak to us in her last minutes. (The dream was longer and more involved, but this is what I remember.) She told me that she couldn’t breathe because the cancer was “eating” her lungs. “This is what it does to you.” Her voice was froggy and cracking. She sounded like someone who was speaking with the very last dredges of her breath. She told me how the cancer was killing her brain and her liver and her heart. As in real life, there was nothing I could do.

So when Brooke and I were discussing future plans and she remarked that nothing I did would bring my mother back, I wasn’t particularly charitable. In bed last night, mostly silent and completely angry, I remembered that dream. For the first time, I wondered if that double dose of morphine we gave her was what really did her in, if that was just more than her system could tolerate. That fear is irrational, completely irrational, since she was allotted triple doses every three hours. I can’t help but bear guilt from that. I killed her. My gut tells me that I killed her. She was dying, and I had to go and kill her.

Although I went to bed at eleven, I know I didn’t sleep for more than two hours at best. When I did get out of bed this morning, NPR’s story on the tenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide was on the radio. Today is kind of shitty.


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