Friday, December 19, 2014

And Today I Mourn

I had a bit of an epiphany/breakdown last night.

I had spent the day doing. Doing stuff. I went to town and had lunch with my boys and Lily and Hank. We went to Japanica and ate our favorite foods. The boys were themselves- little feral puppies who gave kisses and tussled and ate sushi and miso soup and wanted to sit on the comfy couch and by the time we were done, I was ready to come home but I had to go to the grocery store and I did that and I brought in all the bags and the things I'd bought two days before- Christmas presents for the boys- and I was exhausted in my bones and my soul. I put everything away and I scrubbed all the toilets and I did laundry and I swept floors and I made egg rolls and soup and I don't even know what all I did.
I did and I did and I didn't stop until I stopped and that was when I had my little breakdown/epiphany as sadness overcame me and I could feel anxiety trying to wrap itself around my neck.

Why? I thought. Why did I think it was the right thing to do to just push on through such a day when it was the day after one of my beloved friends had died? One morning I had kissed her good-bye and stroked her arms and hair and the next morning I thought I had to scrub the toilets?

Almost five years ago we began this journey, Kathleen and I. I was the one who heard a cough and said, "I think you have pleurisy," and she went to the doctor and he sent her to the pulmonologist and
I went to those appointments with her too and I was there when he so kindly and sadly sat down beside her and said, "We think this is cancer," and then Judy joined our team and we were there that day in the hospital when they did all sorts of tests to see what was what and the doctor came and told us that yes, it was cancer, after he'd watched what he wanted to watch on the TV in the waiting area- the World Cup! as we waited, and Kathleen grabbed my hand said, "Oh Mary! I wanted to be the friend who survived cancer!" and Judy there, right there too, who HAS survived cancer and we were all stunned.
And the oncologist in Tallahassee who couldn't even figure out where her primary tumor was and thus, had no idea how to treat her and didn't even seem to care and all of that chemo he'd given her completely useless. Those hours the three of us had sat there in the infusion rooms, Judy tripping on PTSD and me hating being anywhere near a hospital but we went, we chatted, we laughed, we ate the lovely tea cakes and cookies the volunteers brought around.
We were there when that stupid doctor told her that he knew he'd told her, he was certain! that she only had about six months, at the outside, to live.
He had not told her.
Her hair fell out and I was with her when she got it cut short and then she had one of my daughters (why can't I remember?) shave her head she found Dr. McCutie Pie and then the trips to Thomasville began.

This was a journey we were all on. For all those years. And there were ups and downs and you know what? I don't remember ever seeing her cry.
We had trips to St. George Island. We had parties. We continued with the Opera House activities. We lost our Colin. Kathleen's ex-husband died, she sitting with him as he did.
Her father died. She had met Bug, she married him, they did more in two years than most couples do in a lifetime.
And then the chemo she was taking quit working and she entered hospice and began to live her life without the damn stupid blood tests and scans and different chemos that threatened to kill her before the cancer could.
At first she was so thrilled and at the same time, afraid that hospice wouldn't keep taking care of her because she was doing so well, taking so long to die.
But. Then.
It all got harder and harder. And she did not complain and she accepted each step toward the end of this journey with humor and fierce brave acceptance.

And on Monday I sat with her and we knitted and crocheted and Tuesday she was in her bed and I could tell that she was standing in that doorway between this world and that world and the morphine was easing her fear and pain and letting her drift as she would between those worlds.
And Wednesday she died and they took her little body (she weighed nothing at the end, nothing) out into the sunshine one last time and I kissed her again and she was gone and on Thursday I woke up and thought I had to scrub toilets.

And what was wrong with me that I thought that? Life goes on. Oh yes. It does. Death does not erase the need for laundry and meals and it does not magically clean the toilets or water the plants or take care of the chickens. Not for the living, at least.
That is how it is. Right?
But as I was brushing my teeth last night, getting ready to take my shower, it all came over me and I realized that I was being ridiculous, a fucking idiot to think that I could just go on.
Well, of course I would just go on but one must pay the tax at the end of such a journey. There is no getting around it. Death, like birth, pulls the rug of reality as we know it from under our feet. There is a shift which cannot be ignored and if we try to ignore it, we are fools.

Today I am letting myself weep and write as I want. I am feeling what I am feeling. I am exhausted and who wouldn't be after that journey? It is gray and it is cold I am going to make some chili and some bread and Bug is coming over for supper tonight. He bought a train set for the boys and he wants to set it up, to give it to Owen and Gibson from Uncle Bug and Aunt Kathleen.
Or as Owen called her, "Kath-a-leen."

I might watch some more Keith Richards videos. Watch that old man with his silver skull ring that he wears to remind himself that we all die, that beneath all of our flesh, no matter what that flesh looks like in life, underneath we are all the same.
"Gold rings on ya!" he says, when he leaves the stage.
A Rasta blessing.

I might just sit here and watch the chilly gray sky, the bare bones, the skeletons of the pecan trees against it. I know that Kathleen is free and that has nothing to do with how I feel today.

It was a long journey. It is all a long journey. It is, at the same time, like the growing-up of our children. Some days, some nights, last an eternity. And suddenly, you wake up from a nap and they're grown. So short. How did that happen?

We humans are so weird. We say things like, "Oh, but she wouldn't want you to be sad."
Well fuck that. She wouldn't want to have left her beautiful home, her beloved, her chickens and dogs and ducks and the plans she had for gardens and trees. Didn't matter what she wanted and it doesn't matter what she would want, she is gone and I am fucking sad.

Life goes on, yes, but if I can't take one day to stop and let myself cry all I want then there is something truly wrong with me and truly wrong with this world.

Life is worth celebrating and we will celebrate Kathleen's life and I do celebrate her life and I helped her celebrate her life when she was alive.

But the loss of life is worth mourning and today I am mourning and the everything else can just go fuck itself.

I am paying death its due and to do less would be wrong for me.

Yes, we go on but sometimes we go on in grief. That is part of it.

Gold rings on all of us.
Bless all of our lives and let us live while we're alive and let us mourn when the living are living no more.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. I wish there was a phrase to say that meant, I'm crying too, and I'm sorry for your sadness, and all of it, and it's so hard to lose the people we love.

  2. I am fully in favor of what the Jews do at shiva--to simply sit on the floor or lie on the floor and grieve for as long as necessary (for shiva 7 days). No washing, no baths, not much of anything but letting grief run through the body. I am not Jewish but I think the idea of being in such a state of grief is okay and comforting. It has to run through until I can't grieve anymore and get up and move because I am okay and ready to do so, not because of societal dictates.
    Love to you, Mary.

  3. Yesterday you did what you needed to do yesterday. Today you are doing what you need to do today. Neither is wrong. Sending love.

  4. Mary, we will continue to celebrate and mourn Kathleen just as we have done with Colin these last (almost) four years. I will never forget the last time I saw either one of them and that is a blessing for me. How wonderful we have so many wonderful memories to share. One I remember in particular was the "1st Annual Last Birthday Party." Thank goodness there were more. Love you, dear, and let the tears flow.

  5. Our grief can be cathartic. My mom was in the hospital for 108 days before she flew free, painless and joyful. I spent 108 days making the 45 minute drive to see her, and then she was gone For four days I drove to the hospital and back, blaring her "I Can Only Imagine" CD over and over, and crying my eyes out. I hope you can imagine that your Kathleen is watching over you, and maybe even wondering why you're so sad when she's so joyful. Cry all you need to. It's only when we love deeply that the tears really mean something.

  6. Sandy- Thank you.

    Jo- You said it. Thank you.

    Syd- I often think of that. To just let all of the concentrated grief of it have its way with us for seven days. It is good idea. How many of us even begin to do that?
    Love you, Brother Syd.

    Stephanie- I know. I guess I was mostly just crazy yesterday. As opposed to, you know, today.

    Jan- Yes. Laughter through tears. Sometimes more tears than laughter, some days the other way around. You are right.

    Catrina- Oh. Bless your heart and your mother's too. That was a beautiful way to grieve.

  7. Love to you, Mary. None of this is easy, none of it. Beauty and sorrow are of the same cloth. Sending you all the light I can.

  8. White- Thank you, brother. I love you.

    Ramona Quimby- You are right about beauty and sorrow. They both bring tears.

  9. I understand. I think all of us who are here understand. But you say it so well. It is a comfort for you to write it, but it's also a comfort to read it. Grieve well. The only good thing about death is that there is no more suffering for the person gone. Other than that, death is sorrow.

  10. I've felt sad that the world doesn't stop when someone dies even though it can't really. But we can. I am Jewish and so I am familiar with the custom of Shiva that Syd talks about. There is a lot of good in it for those grieving. I am glad you are taking it slow today. I expected a type of exhaustion to come to you and it really is all as it should be. I hope you will let yourself be taken care of a bit as you take care of others. I love you. Sweet Jo


  11. This was in my news feed just after I read your post:

    "The only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land. We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep. Right now—in the very instant of groundlessness—is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness."

  12. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm grateful to you for sharing your feelings and this lovely woman with us.

  13. i have followed this path with you and Kathleen for a short time.Every word has been taken to heart and mind.Know that others are with you and Bug and all the rest.Here is Love and Hugs from Alabama.Peace...

  14. Kathleen is gone and it is sad and we who you introduced to her are sad with you. Reading your words today is a tiny act of sitting shiva for Kathleen by every person who reads. Sending you love and light. x0 N2

  15. We are so sad with you. Your words soothe us who knew Ms. Kathleen only through your connection to her which was so powerfully strong and pure. I'm thinking of the balloon analogy that Ms. Kathleen's friend had written a few days ago. Pretty sure cleaning toilets is a grieving custom in some culture somewhere. A hug to you and all who breathed the same air as your friend.

  16. Six months. That is how long it took me to do little more than sit and stare out the window at the tree in front of my living room window. I stared at the tree for so long I named her Brianna. I stared so long at her that she became a friend and when we were told in no uncertain terms that she was rotten and needed to be cut down I protested. Loudly. That tree is what kept me going. I watched her leaves turn and then fall and then the new leaves bloom.
    I don't know why I am even telling you all this. Grief has its way with us. I guess that is the point. Some days we clean toilets. Other days we sit and feel our heart break wide open.
    I love you, Ms. Mary Moon. Thank you for your openness and love.

    PS- We hired a tree expert who saved Brianna and she is doing beautifully.

  17. sending all our love and light to you and all those who loved dear kathleen.


  18. A wise and beautiful post. I am sad for your loss of such a true friend. Mourning is the only reasonable thing to do.

  19. Oh hon. I know you will miss her. How could you not? Arms around you.

  20. Such a beautiful post about love and life and grief. There is no right way. Maybe scrubbing toilets was right choice.
    There is no right choice.

    I like the concept of sitting shiva - greeting the grief and letting it have its way with us, maybe that would make it easier to go on. I don't know.

    I'm sorry Kathleen is gone too soon. She was special. She taught me more than she could know about how to live and love. So have you.

    Sending you hugs, grieving with you as best I can.


  21. jenny o- You are so right.

    Sweet Jo- My husband and children try to take care of me. I don't think it is easily done.

    Sabine- True. And beautiful.

    Sylvia- It has been release and goodness to be able to talk about this journey. Thank you.

    mary i- Thank you. Always.

    N2- You know? I really love what you said. All of us contributing a tiny bit of sitting shiva. Thank you.

    Jucie- Yep. Cleaning toilets can be therapeutic. I guess. Still, it just seems on reflection to be so weird. Wasn't that balloon story gorgeous?

    Birdie- That is a very beautiful story about grief. Thank you. It makes perfect sense to me. And I am so glad that Brianna is healthy and doing well.

    Fien- Thank you, dear woman. I truly hope all is well and good with you and your beloveds.

    Mrs. A- I take that to my heart.

    Denise- What else can we do?

    Angella- I always knew how this journey would end. That doesn't help much, does it?

    Mel- Thank you for sharing this with me. Thank you for being here. We all learned a lot from that woman. Yes. We did.

  22. I can totally relate to the need to clean a toilet when things are so raw and sad. I'm telling you, the cleaner my surroundings, the more out of control I feel in my own soul. It's how I try to have a semblance of control over one tiny little thing. I can't control my feelings but I can control the cleanliness of the shitter and that's something when your heart is broken. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps you from shattering into a million little pieces.

  23. Nothing wrong with you, with what you did. you were stunned and so the body just took over and did things you didn't need to think about or weren't ready to think about.

  24. This was a beautiful tribute, beautiful even in its sadness and anger. You're right, it's natural that you should crash back to earth after such an intense experience.

    Gold rings on all of us. I like that.

  25. You made me cry. I love this writing. You write so clearly, the way you feel. Beautiful stuff. So true and helpful for us all to remember.


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