Aug 20, 2018

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Love and Loss: The Death of my Mother

This is a very long story, because my mother didn’t want us to say anything publicly while she was alive. If the title didn’t give it away, my mother recently passed from this life into the next. I want to talk about this, not only as a comfort for myself, but because it isn’t something we often discuss in society; at least not here in the states. 

Since this is a long story, I’m going to break it up into sections and discuss each one. I’m not sure if anyone can relate or not, but hopefully it offers some insight perhaps to friends and family who weren’t aware of what was going on, and maybe offers comfort to strangers of the family who are going through similar. Again, I’ve no idea who this will reach, but it is a public forum so I’m prepared for anything.

Mom Gets Sick

My mother was always a strong woman, and she put others before herself all the time. On top of that, she hated, hated doctors. She had horrendous anxiety, and just generally did not want to know. For her, ignorance was bliss. As her daughter, I feel this was selfish, but as a human being I can understand the choice. I’m afraid to find out that I’m extremely ill, too. So even though I’m angry with her for not going to the doctor sooner, I can respect her reasoning not to: she was scared. 

For the past five years she has been going downhill, but the only ones who knew were her and my father. She didn’t want to burden anyone else with her health woes, and considering my dad is not in great shape himself (in fact, we all expected him to pre-decease my mom by a long shot), I can see how this happened. We’ve all been focused on how dad was doing, because well, dad’s pretty sick in his own way. My mom was also a master at hiding everything. So no one knew until recently that she was very, very sick.

Probably around Spring of 2017 is when I really started noticing something was wrong with my mom. She was simply dropping weight way too fast. I figured it must be stress though, because her business (she owned her own having inherited it from her parents) was not doing too well, and that can take its toll. Not to mention the fact that she had stress-induced-psoriasis going on, so all signs pointed to stress. Couple that with her not eating properly, and weight loss will happen. She also had a thyroid issue when she was younger, and there was a chance it had swung from hypo to hyper. Essentially, at least as of 2017, there was a chance that her weight loss was something easily fixable if she just put her mind to it.

In addition to the stress she had from daily life though, her older sister (my aunt) was not well. She had lung cancer, and she was going downhill fast. At the end of it all, my aunt would spend a few weeks in the hospital around Christmas time after falling and being unable to get up, and they would discover that the cancer had spread from her lung to her brain. She would pass right before New Year’s Day, 2018. This was a heavy blow to my mom, as she was very close to her sister.

After my aunt passed, I mentioned to my mother that she needed to figure herself out, because I didn’t want to do this again. I think I had an inkling at that point that my mom might have something serious going on, because her smoker’s cough was getting worse and worse. My mom was a smoker of over 40 years, she had done some damage for sure, but I always believed in her ability to quit if she really wanted to; especially since my dad was beginning to work on it himself.

Fast-forward to Memorial Day weekend, 2018. My mother has been going downhill rapidly, she can no longer lift things that are over 10lbs, and she generally looks like hell. I’ve been working for her company for over a year now, trying to help her out, but taking more and more time to myself because I’m working on starting my own massage practice now that I’m licensed. This weekend she missed all events because she couldn’t breathe. She simply sat on the couch struggling for air. You may think it cruel that no one called for help, but the fact of the matter was, she was still of sound mind so even if we called for help, she could refuse, and they would have to leave. Crazy as it is, that was the situation we found ourselves in. My brother is an EMT and my dad is a driver for the local ambulance core, they were mindful of her state and if she had passed out, she was going to be taken to the ER immediately. She never passed out.

At this point I was extremely angry with my mother. She needed to go to the doctor, but she hadn’t. I was nagging her daily, and I was pretty short-tempered with her over it, too. I made sure my father was aware of everything my mother was telling me, in case she wasn’t also telling him. He and I discussed what the options with mom were if she was still refusing to go to the doctor. My fiance, Pete, and I discussed having to go over to my parents’ house and discuss with my father what we needed to prepare for if my mother died, in front of her and not with her, if that was what it would take to kick her ass into gear to get her to go to the doctor.

Thankfully, she would call the doctor the Tuesday after Memorial Day (the first day they were open after the holiday), and get right in. So we didn’t have to resort to anything drastic.

The Diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis would be the most frustrating and emotionally draining thing I have ever dealt with, and I assume it was the same for my whole family, but especially my mom. We never really discussed it though, so I can’t say for certain now.

When my mom went to the doctor that Tuesday, her O2 Stat was at 62. Most people pass out if it drops below 80. So in her case, it had been gradually getting worse (much like when you slowly acclimate to a higher altitude), and her body adjusted. It just finally hit a point where she couldn’t handle it anymore, and something needed to happen. They immediately put her on oxygen, gave her a nebulizer, and started working to figure out what was wrong.

After this appointment, my mom would be on oxygen for the rest of her life. You would think this would mean that she would quit smoking, but it didn’t stop her. She certainly began cutting back though, which was a start. Her solution was to take the oxygen off and smoke outside. In her eyes, it was okay to be without the oxygen for a bit. The amount of time she could do this would slowly decrease.

Even though she was seeing her GP (general practitioner) every week to check on things, it would take a month to finally see a Pulmonologist to actually look at her lungs and give a more definitive diagnosis. The GP could only say for sure that she had severe COPD Emphysema, and couldn’t conclusively tell us anything else. we all knew the verdict though, even without the specialist. The real question was if it was treatable.

At the end of June she finally saw the Pulmonologist… who then told her that she needed a chest X-Ray to start things off. Why this wasn’t ordered before she saw him, we’ll never know, but it wasn’t. That would happen a week later, and would reveal a large mass in her upper bronchiole on the left side, and either a large mass in her left lung, or a collapsed left lung. An X-Ray was inconclusive for diagnosis, it just showed the beginning of the issue. The biggest problem though, was that the mass was blocking her lung completely. He would reveal to us that she was functioning on 20% of her right lung, only. That’s not a lot of lung to work with. He also informed her that regardless of diagnosis, she was not in condition to be a candidate for surgery. They took that off the table immediately, and ordered a CAT Scan for the following week.

After seeing the CAT Scan, they were pretty sure it was cancer, but they weren’t sure as to a type. They needed to do a biopsy, but with her current breathing capacity there was a huge risk that the anesthesia could basically kill her, and she’d end up on life support. However, if they didn’t do the test, the doctor gave her no more than 6 months to live. She was [understandably] very nervous about it, but I helped to calm her down and she went in for the biopsy. Thankfully, that went smoothly.

This is where things started to look up. That was late-July, and at this point they informed us that it was cancer, but it was large-cell and they believed it was just one tumor blocking her lung, it could be treated, and when they shrank it she should get the use of her lung back. Things looked promising for the first time in months. Instead of getting increasingly worse news, we had a small light at the end of the tunnel. They didn’t have a definitive type of cancer yet, but this was manageable. It was a relief, at least for me, to hear.

It would be early August that Mom would go in for a PET Scan and a brain MRI to make sure that the cancer hadn’t spread. They had the results back by now as to an exact type of cancer (which I cannot recall), and the surprising thing is that it was a hereditary form of cancer, not typically caused by smoking (yay for me, the only one who didn’t start smoking). Considering her mother, and her sister both died of lung cancer, it wasn’t too shocking (though they both died of their own unique types, too). Certainly the smoking didn’t help, but it wasn’t the actual cause of the cancer.

The results from the PET Scan and the brain MRI would find that the left lung was totally compromised by cancer, and that she had a spot about the size of a grape in her brain near the base of her skull at the cerebellum. Since they did the brain MRI in 3mm sections, she was going to have to go back to have it done in 1mm sections to make sure there weren’t smaller spots, but now they elevated her immediately to Stage 4 cancer because it had spread. Her prognosis wasn’t good. Without treatment, 3-6 months. With treatment, 3-5 years, maybe 7 years on the outside if we were really lucky on how she responded.

She met with the oncologist and the radiologist on August 3rd, the following day. They were setting her up with tattoos to pinpoint the radiation, and to put the treatments into order. She would need to receive chemo once a week, and radiation five days a week, for seven weeks; but they were certain that they could at least reduce the cancer and put it into a form of remission. Curing it was impossible. Mom was going to go for it though, because her other options were bleak. Treatment would start on August 14, 2018.

The Turning Point

Things were finally, finally looking up. After two months of turmoil and an emotional roller coaster, we finally had a diagnosis and a plan. Mom and dad wished they had more time so that they could maybe get a second opinion, but the specialists did tell them that they wouldn’t recommend treatment if they weren’t sure it’d work. So we were going to go forward, we were going to push this back, and we were going to have a few more years with mom. At least, that was the plan.

On the night of August 9th, 2018 my father would text me around 10:30pm to let me know my mother wasn’t doing well, and he had left a voicemail (I hadn’t heard my phone go off). They were heading into the ER, and I was wondering what the hell happened, because if was just hours before that I was talking to my mother about the business, and feeling a little frustrated that she wouldn’t be in yet again. However, I understood because she had diarrhea, which we figured was a reaction to some of the meds she was now on for her illness. Looking back all the signs were there, but they just weren’t obvious because they could be explained otherwise. I’ll always wonder if we hadn’t noticed sooner if she’d still be here, but hindsight is 20/20 and you cannot change the past.

My mother did not want to go to the ER. After my aunt had died in the hospital, she was terrified of being there. When she passed out on the coffee table (she leaned forward while sitting on the couch), despite my father having helped her use her rescue inhaler, my brother had my dad call 911 for an ambulance.

I would later find out my brother bagged my mother the whole way, because the crew needed one more person and he was qualified. Bagging means to help force in oxygen, for those who don’t know. My father wanted to go with the ambulance, but my brother shut the door in his face and told him to come by private vehicle. None of us are talking about how dad managed to beat the ambulance to the hospital regardless of leaving after they did.

At 10:50 that night I would ask my father if I needed to be there. My fiance was aware of the situation, but laid down for bed and told me to wake him if anything changed. My dad wasn’t sure, so I phoned my brother when I wasn’t getting a response to chat with him, and it was he who filled me in on how grim things were looking. At 11:30 my father would finally tell me to head there, and I’d wake my fiance to do so and we left in short order. All in all, we arrived at the ER around 12:30 that night.

The ER

I knew when we arrived that my mother was nearing the end, but I did not want to admit it to myself. I needed to believe that somehow, some way, she was going to pull through. When my fiance and I arrived, the light was gone from my mother’s eyes and she was a shell of the woman I knew. There was a primal, child-like fear to her that I had only seen once previously, and that was when I visited my aunt in the hospital just eight months prior. 

Her vitals were horrible. The only positive was that she had woken up, after having passed out from a lack of oxygen. She was speaking, though she seemed to be struggling to hear and her voice was quiet. Words were seemingly hard for her to form, and her sense of humor was gone. She was, quite literally, in a fearful survival mode. Her heart was beating rapidly, and her oxygen levels were poor.

Being claustrophobic, she didn’t want to wear the mask (it was like a C-Pap… but I think they called it a V-Pap or something? I have forgotten…) they needed her to, so they did give her some meds to help calm her down… and they helped, a bit. She was still pulling it away from her face, but she was at least wearing it for the most part. Her blood O2 gasses were looking better, and her heart rate was starting to drop.

For almost two and a half hours I would sit and massage whatever I could reach, mainly her feet, but also her hands and her shoulders. I needed to do something, anything to try and help my poor mother. I showed her the Palace of Anxiety from Shiatsu to try and help calm her nerves, I worked her Lung-1 point to try and help her breath, and I worked her feet a lot because I could do reflexology to try and help her whole body. She was sweating based on how matted her hair was, but her feet and hands were so cold. It was honestly heartbreaking.

The doctors were in and out often, discussing the options we had, and trying to get my mother to stop messing with the mask. Mom was good about everything (minus the mask), but I feel that it was mainly because she really wasn’t there. They talked to my dad about putting a tube in to help her breathe, but he was adamantly against it. What I didn’t realize (I was very tired), was this was basically life support and that was what my mother feared the most. I can understand now why he didn’t want it, but they were offering it as a way to let her body relax while the machine did the work for her. It was risky, but an option.

Ultimately what was going on, was she had pneumonia. This is bad enough in and of itself, but when you only have one lung operating on 20% of itself, this is very dangerous. Still, she was responding to the antibiotics they were giving her, and there was a glimmer of hope. When my fiance, my brother, and I finally left around 3:30am on Friday, August 10th, they were getting ready to move her to ICU and she was starting to do better. Not great, but she was improving. We felt safe to return home and get some sleep. Dad stayed behind to be with her.

Before we all left, we told her we loved her and kissed her goodbye. We all left her with words of encouragement that she was going to get better. I am still haunted though by the look in her eyes and the fear in her voice when I told her they were going to admit her and she said “I have to stay here?” Knowing how fearful she was of hospitals in general, it broke my heart. I tried to be strong for her though, and told her that it was okay and she was going to be fine. I wish that had truly been the case.

Her Death

My fiance and I finally arrived home around 4:30am, and I would finally be able to lay down to sleep around 5:30am. My plans were to wake up when I was able, check in with Dad about Mom, and then go to work to do a little bit before heading to visit. Dad had texted around 6:15am to let me know what ICU room she was in, so this was all going to work out well.

Around 9am I would be awoken to my phone ringing, and it was my father. Sometime between 6am and 9am Mom took a turn for the worse. He was left with an impossible decision, and I could tell from the sorrow in his voice he wasn’t prepared to make the choice. Mom was dying. Either she was going to die because her heart was going to explode, or they had to put her on a respirator, which is basically life support. Once on the respirator, there was only a miracle of a chance that she’d heal, and come off. I told him to put her on the respirator. We knew she didn’t want that, however my sister was in Colorado and didn’t know about any of this (they were going to tell her of the final diagnosis after she returned from vacation), not to mention we needed to contact the rest of the family. At least a respirator might let her be around long enough for them to be able to come say goodbye.

When I hung up with my father, I called my uncle who was my mother’s last remaining sibling, to tell him what was going on. He didn’t know who I was at first (he didn’t have my cell number), but after I told him he said he had a 9:30am doctor appointment, and then he’d collect my aunt and go to mom. 

Dad would call me back around 10am to tell me that Mom had passed away. When they gave her the drug to relax her and essentially medically induce a coma to insert the tube for the respirator, her heart just couldn’t take anymore and stopped. I’d find out later that Dad heard the code blue go over the speaker and knew immediately that it was Mom, and had to tell the nurse to cease CPR. She didn’t have a shockable rhythm. She was gone, and Dad was beside himself. This would be the second time I’d heard my father cry, the only other time was when my grandfather, his father, passed away.

I asked him if he needed me to be there, but he said no, please go to my brother. My fiance, Pete, drove me there since I was a complete mess, and my brother, his girlfriend Marisa, Pete, and I sat on the porch in silence for a while. We were all in shock.

Naturally, family and friends came and went (and most brought food… so much food). Every time someone new showed up, the tears started again. I was beside myself. My father did finally get in touch with my sister in Colorado, and she was naturally floored. He told her to enjoy the last of her vacation as best as possible though, because Mom would have wanted that. I don’t think he was wrong.

The day was honestly a blur. Time stopped, and I was a wreck. I called so many people, cried so many tears, and that night I wouldn’t be able to sleep more than perhaps an hour without having a panic attack. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to the office.

The Wake and Funeral

If you have never had to plan a wake and funeral, you’re not missing out on much. They are expensive, and they are emotionally draining. I give the warmest regards to Armer Funeral Home for the fine job they did for my mom, and being as gentle with us as they could.

That Saturday we all gathered at the funeral home to make the arrangements and get the obituary together. We set the wake for Tuesday… the day she was supposed to start her treatments. We could have done the wake on Tuesday with the funeral on Wednesday, or we could have done the wake on Wednesday with the funeral on Thursday. Dad wasn’t quite sure, but I voiced for the earlier days because honestly, I didn’t want to drag this out any longer than necessary. Mom was gone, and I wanted to put the emotional stress behind me sooner rather than later. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

Part of the arrangements is choosing a casket, a guest book, writing the obituary and choosing where it will be run, selecting the dates and times for the services, selecting someone to do the services, and other basic things. It was a comfort to find out though that my mom never had to go to the morgue. As soon as she passed, my dad had enough wits to him to have the funeral home called, and they came right away to pick her up.

Sunday was kind of a down day, as there wasn’t much to do, but my sister did come into town and we needed to find the clothing and jewelry my mother would be wearing for her wake. So we took care of that.

Monday we met with the minister who would handle the services. Dad didn’t feel Mom was terribly into church, but my sister and I both reminded him that one of her biggest regrets was not taking us to church more often (life happened). The minister was wonderful though, and encouraged us to share memories of our mother so she could get a feel for who she was, and make sure the services on Wednesday would suit her. After which Pete and I went to the salon I always go to, and I had them take a small chunk of my hair out so I could send a piece of myself with my mother.

Tuesday was a blur. For two hours we stood, receiving those who came to pay their respects. I hugged so many people, I heard so many memories, and I honestly don’t remember much of it. I just remember being morose, and trying to support my Dad. I was doing okay up until the fire department paid their last respects with a final salute, since my mother had served on the board of commissioners and helped turn it around for 11 years. That stuff always gets me right in the heart strings.

Wednesday was the funeral, where we would bury my mom. This was the day that I cried, a lot. The service by the minister was beautiful, and considering how much we threw at her in our short meeting, she did well. There were a couple things that she wasn’t quite correct with, but they were minor and understandable. I’m sure my mom, wherever she was watching from, was comforted by the service this woman gave for her. After that it was time to head to the graveside to say our final, final goodbyes.

I don’t know how I managed it, but I drove my own car in the procession, and my brother drove my mom’s Jeep. We were the most together I suppose. So he, my father, and his girlfriend went in one vehicle, and myself, my sister, her boyfriend, and Pete went in mine.

The graveside services were wonderful as well, and then it was time. Now we had to say goodbye for good, and she would be returned to the earth. I think this is where I cried the hardest through the two days, and I know my father was a complete wreck. It was rough.

After the services though we went back to my aunt and uncle’s on my mom’s side of the family to gather and comfort each other. I needed it, badly. Being around my friends and family was extremely healing, and I was there for hours. I’d have been there longer, except Pete had to go to work in the morning, and so we left around 8pm.

Almost a week after her death, time started moving again. I was no longer hysterical, but things still feel surreal even as I write this.

My Candlelight Vigil

Flowers from her funeral

I am a practicing Wiccan, and I am very connected to my faith in my own, personal ways. What started as lighting a candle for my mother the night of her passing, turned into a one-week vigil of candles for her. Some burned away to nothing, and others left wax behind. Anything left behind I will be burying in her gardens that she loved so much.

In addition to the vigil, I have a rose and a lily from her funeral arrangements that I will bury as well. My mother loved day lilies so much, and she always wanted to grow roses (but it never went well). So I will send these as well to the earth to be with her, with all my love and caring. It might not mean much to others, but for me it really helped as I went through this time of sorrow.

That’s the beauty of faith though, it’s extremely personal. I really don’t have much more to say on this one. I do encourage anyone facing a great challenge or great loss, who is faithful, to lean on it as you need to, in whatever way you need to.

Her Obituary

My Mother
November 27, 1958 – August 10, 2018
Photo taken by my sister at my graduation from Massage Therapy School November 28, 2017.

Sally A. Genier, 59, passed away on Friday, August 10, 2018. Born in Cambridge, NY on November 27, 1958, she was the daughter of Clark and Joan Briggs.

Sally was a loving mother and entrepreneur, running her own business and taking care of her family. She enjoyed gardening, baking, cross stitch and spending time at the beach.

She was predeceased by her parents, Clark and Joan, brother Marc and sister Linda. Sally is survived by her husband Mark, and their children Samantha Genier and her fiance Peter Keenan, Amelia Genier (Marshall Hallenbeck) and Ethan Genier (Marisa Bates); brother Clark Briggs (Marsha); and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held 10am Wednesday, August 15 at Armer Funeral Home, Inc., 39 East High Street, Ballston Spa. Burial will follow in Powell Wiswall Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to call on Tuesday, August 14 from 5pm to 7pm at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions in memory of Sally may be made to the Galway Lions Club, PO Box 244, Galway, NY 12074.

Moving On

After all is said and done, myself and my family have to continue to live on. It isn’t going to be easy for a while, but we’re all just taking it day-by-day. There’s not much else we can do. Time will help us to heal and cope, but the hole in my heart won’t be filled. A piece of me died with her, and no one can replace her. Still, I will learn to live with it, and become happy again, because she wouldn’t want it any other way. I will cry as I need to (like now), and smile when I can. Someday it will feel real, too.

That weekend I went away with Pete to do a living history demonstration at a local Timeline event in Menands, NY. That Saturday (the 18th, which would have been my parents’ 35th anniversary), one of the organizers who does Civil War came by to ask if it would be okay with me if they held a memorial for my mother. He knew what had happened thanks to Facebook, and since I was part of the family as a reenactor (even if I do Viking, we’re one big family) he and others wanted to do something. I gave my permission, and that day around 3:30pm they did a 21 gun salute with antique firearms ranging from muskets to rifles, and two cannons from the Civil War were fired as well. A gentlement with an Italian WWII (maybe WWI? I cannot remember) reenactor unit played taps for her, and then at the end they had myself and my sister each fire a cannon in her memory. We were given our firing pins as a memorial. My sister being there wasn’t planned, either; she just happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

I took video of the memorial, but I am not going to post that here.

For the past week the office has been closed, but my father and I are finally going to venture in and start tackling things. We’re not 100% sure what we’re going to do there, but we’ll just take it day-by-day until we figure it out.

Looking back, this is probably more merciful for her anyways. She was very sick, and frail. The toll chemo and radiation would have taken on her would have been tremendous, and she likely wouldn’t have survived it. To have her pass before that started cannot be anything but merciful. The only way it could have been more merciful, really, was if she passed in her sleep. And for my father (and us kids, really, too), it was merciful that she never made it on life support, where we would then have to make the decision to end it. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, but it’s still a comfort for me.

Overall, things are just going to take time. We have to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. It’s all we can do.

The Emotional Toll

The past two-and-a-half months have been horrible on the emotions. I cannot count anymore how much I have cried, how much sleep I have lost, and how many times my emotions have flip-flopped all over the place. None of it was unwarranted though, and I have to keep reassuring myself and being reassured that it’s normal.

Anger: I have been angry at my mother for not seeing the doctor sooner. For hiding her symptoms. For smoking. Not trying harder (irrational, I know). Leaving us. Giving up (again, irrational). At myself for not noticing, not doing more, not being a better child.

Frustration: There’s no bigger frustration than being unable to do anything in the face of everything happening. All I wanted was to be able to do something, and in the end I couldn’t really do anything at all; at least that’s how it felt and still feels.

Saddness: Having to look death in the face is hard. We kept getting it shoved in our faces, and it never got any easier. It’s still not easy.

Joy/Relief: When the diagnosis came in, it was a relief. To finally know was a relief. To have hope was joyful. A treatment plan was a happy moment, because we could do something, we could battle this. We could start looking forward. It was also relief to know we didn’t have to deal with life support, and deciding when to remove her from it, since she passed before she made it onto it.

Guilt: I lectured my mother at points, said things out of anger and frustration that I wish I hadn’t. Things I’m sure she had thought herself, and didn’t want to hear. I cannot take them back, but I can take some comfort in knowing that I stopped when she asked. We all do these things though, it’s normal, as we try to sort out how we’re feeling over extreme news.

All these things, all these emotions, came barreling in over and over during everything since Memorial Day. It has been exhausting. And of course, life didn’t stop just because Mom was ill. So it was on top of life in general, too. It takes a toll. Thankfully, acupuncture is helping to keep me grounded and on-track, so I can better cope with everything.

Changes to Happen

In light of all this, I have realized that there are some changes that I need to make in my own life sooner rather than later. Losing my mother so suddenly has been a shock, but it has woken me up to my own shortcoming with procrastination about everything… and how I like to hold on to everything even if it’s doing me more harm than good.

I am always saying I need to visit someone, need to find time for them, need to do things. But I never have time, never find it, tomorrow is always an option. I’m out of tomorrows with Mom. There will never be a tomorrow ever again with her, because her time is up. I was counting on all those tomorrows: to finish a cross-stitch piece I was doing for her, to get married and have her attend and help, to help her with the basement, to sort our ornament boxes… this list could go on forever. We had so many plans, and in the blink of an eye they’re gone.

No more. I have realized that today is the day. If it can be done today, it needs to be. If I want to see my friends and family, I don’t find time, I make time. I need to push my busy schedule of nothing aside for the things that really matter. I need to stop procrastinating, because eventually it’s too late.

I’m also acutely aware that I want to hold onto my grief, and let it eat away at me. I’ve always been one to hold on for too long though, to things that are no longer serving me. This is where the acupuncture will help though, to ground me and help me release this emotion. It’s absolutely valid, and will absolutely take time; but I cannot hang on to it forever. I need to be okay with moving forward without it as baggage. It will only hurt me to carry it along.

I don’t expect the grief to just disappear though, either. The holidays are going to be rough this year, and I’m sure I’ll cry randomly as memories come up and are painful. It happens. But so long as I let it go each time and don’t hold onto it unnecessarily, all will be well.

More things will come up as well, too, I’m sure. It’s going to be a long journey. But for sure, it has opened my eyes to many things. The little things don’t bother me quite as much anymore. I’m realizing who it is I should hold as important in my life, and who it is that doesn’t really matter. I’m doing my best to move forward, because my mom wouldn’t want it any other way.

Just one step at a time. Or as mom would say, I’m eating my elephant, one bite at a time and not any more than that.

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