Tag Archives: November

Being the Daughter

I know that my mom is the center of her own story. The star of her own show. Dying of pancreatic cancer is traumatic. Bearing the pain, the news, the treatments. I cannot imagine the grief and loss that comes with facing the end in that way. Her story is not mine to tell.

And yet . . .

Being the daughter is difficult, too. There is a strange supporting role that overlaps. I have my own story of grief and loss in the midst of watching my mom live out her days. I am losing my mom, my hopes and dreams with her, my emergency contact person for my kids in school.

In early July when I filled out school registration forms for my three high school kids, it was so easy, because everything was the same. In August when I registered the fourth in a new space and automatically began typing my mom’s information in as an emergency contact person, I froze with the reality of the news we had been given and broke into gut-wrenching sobs before texting my sister-in-law to ask if I could use her instead. I did not even want to consider what the end of the school year might look like or where we would be.

I sit awake in the middle of the night, the time when grief barrels down like a freight train, because that is when the house is still and quiet and no one needs me. I carry my quilt and hot tea to the tiny office upstairs and sit.

One day I will have home office space big enough to hold a couch or recliner or something more comfortable than a chair and makeshift tiny ottoman. I am thankful for what I have now, space just for me and Pierre the bird, whose cage I have resumed covering again so my middle-of-night visits don’t disrupt him..

On a good night I meditate or journal or read to quiet my mind before returning to bed. Then there are the nights I spend searching my phone, scrolling for stories, for connection, for others who may be feeling similar grief. Those nights I know I should just put down the phone. It’s not good for my sleep cycle to be staring at the light.

It’s also not good for my sleep cycle to have a mom that is dying.

We won another month.

Hello, November! You bring us a new start.

I deeply hoped we would, even though the beginning of October felt tenuous enough for me to cancel a trip, even as mom planned one of her own. She travelled, saw her people. I stayed home, sat in hard places, and fed her cats. I started a new client and engaged my own grief.

l listened as my body bore witness to my story, kept showing up for my coaching group, checked on Mom when she returned, gave big space when I couldn’t.

I want to know how this ends, but I don’t want it to end. I want a place to fall, land, be held without feeling both complicit and responsible. I want absolution. Kindness. Care. I want to watch all of the amazing things everyone else is doing with their lives and families while believing that my grieving is enough for right now.

I am both a daughter losing her mother and a mother of many who need to be actively mothered. This is not easy. There is a little girl inside who just wants to be able to cry, release, speak the truth of where I am without being blamed or fixed. We all need so much of each other. We are all so alone.

Being the daughter means having young places inside stirred by this reality, places that desire deep freedom to be who I am and generous love and acceptance. Big kindness. I want to be seen, known, loved, understood, tended. Being the daughter means sitting in the shadows watching the stars of this show play out their scenes together.

The shadows feel familiar.

I am so grateful for each of you who has seen me and reached out in the ways you felt led. From cards in the mail to bread and butter left in brown paper packages on the porch to invitations for walks to understanding that my absence or silence is not personal, it all matters.

Even unspoken thoughts matter when you are the daughter losing her words in the midst of this nightmarish loss.

Look Up

There is a squirrel’s nest high in the tree. I see it now that leaves have begun to fall and am reminded of Miss Suzy, one of my favorite childhood books. A copy sits on a shelf in the living room, and I take it down to remember.

Miss Suzy was a little gray squirrel who lived all by herself in the tip. tip, top of a tall oak tree. She liked to cook, she liked to clean, and she liked to sing while she worked. . .

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

I loved Miss Suzy’s cozy house and the way she sang as she baked and tidied up. I love the way she nested and how she cleaned and straightened the dollhouse in the attic when she was run out of her treetop home by a band of red squirrels. I love how she found the toy soldiers and took care of them like a mother and how she finally was able to tell them her story, inspiring them to take action on her behalf.

Late that night the captain woke his men and gave them their orders. There were only five of them, but they were very brave, and their hearts were full of love. After all, Miss Suzy had cared for them all winter.

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

This look up at a squirrel’s nest took my heart to a young place. It found something in a dark corner of it that I had forgotten was there. Nurture.

November is traditionally a month to give thanks, a practice that would be wise to employ year-round. This month I hope to look up and around at the goodness that surrounds me, growing in gratitude and contentment for these beautiful gifts.

It is a bit of a bind that we live in, the marriage of goodness and grief. There is no one ideal situation, and many have been led astray and even harmed with the promise of such. If only. . .thens rarely pan out. What we have is a present mingling of both.

I want to believe that I live out of my ideal self always, yet, sadly I don’t. If I’m honest it’s less-than-ideal. Surrounded by much goodness I focus on the bad, the hard, the grief.

And there is a place for that. There is always a place for lament. For honesty. For things to be not okay. I am not talking about it could be worse or any category that begins with the words at least.

I am talking about where I find myself this season. I need to keep looking up.

For me that means continuing to write on the blog rather than focusing on all that I didn’t write.

With that focus, I plan to write a little each day about whatever comes. I trust that there will be moments of looking up in gratitude for where I am and hopefulness for where I am going.

Life is a beautifully messy journey, and I don’t want to miss mine.

Miss Suzy had to work hard to make her old home as neat and cozy as it had been before, but she didn’t mind. She made a new moss carpet and a new broom and gathered fresh acorns for cups and caught two fireflies for her lamps. At last she had everything in order.

That night, when she went to bed, she was very tired. But she looked through the branches and she could see a million stars. The wind blew gently and rocked the tree like a cradle. It was very peaceful, and Miss Suzy was happy once more.

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, ending.