The hallway

Spring is officially here in Denver. I write that knowing we have a bit of snow headed our way tonight. Suddenly, the worries of winter have morphed into trimming grass and figuring out how I can get a garden started.

How can it only have been a month ago that we told mom farewell? I have no regrets about the week+ we spent in Kansas after her death. Everyone came together and I carry that daily. We entered grief's hallway. It's still dark for me, and I can't find the light switch. I stumble around. Sometimes I just go to sleep on the floor with no blanket. I imagine there is a long oriental rug running the floor, and the hallway is light at times, streaming through tall windows. Mostly it is dim. It's not claustrophobic, but my chest feels pressed and I am brought back to the day mom died and I envision holding her hand while she lay in bed.

I've tried every way fathomable to talk to her. I'm at that stage... having terrifically awful moments of realization that I simply cannot speak to her. I never dreamed of the angst I'd feel at those moments. I don't really address them, but take a deep breath and tuck it away for another time. Denial. I think that's the stage.

I've rarely been alone since mom died. That time only comes when I am out running on the street and if I'm on an airplane traveling solo. I run several times a week. I've flown alone once in the last month. When I run, I cry. Tears stream down my face and now that it's warmer, they dry and my face feels tight when I arrive home. On planes, I sleep. I wait to talk with her in my dreams. Sometimes, I do. Those are the very best days.

Habit hasn't abated. I still pick up my phone and almost hit her name on the call list. Every morning until about a week ago, I still did that. I take photos of my daughter and am tempted to text them. Who can I share them with now? I find people. I reach out at random times to folks, and have publicly shared my grief a few times outside my comfort zone. I don't know how it makes me feel about my own privacy. I just do it because I feel better afterward. I really don't care about the overshare because I want each to be meaningful and very authentic, and they are so far.

I guess the lesson is that she will forever be my mother, and I will forever need her and that will never go away. I turned 37 last month, a day before we buried her. I'm an adult with an adult life (although still regularly immature). Even when she was very ill, I still needed her and she helped me. I look back and almost treasure my last thread of texts from her, the last one arriving an afternoon before she died. She was wheezing and experiencing anxiety -- two issues that never emerged until the very end. She wanted to know how a presentation had gone for me at work. She was to visit her doctor again that afternoon. That was our daily way. Every day... life centered on illness, wellness and waiting on doctor visits or call-backs state of mind.

I spent the weekend with dad. Ginger and I took him to Washington D.C. with us to visit the White House for the annual Easter egg roll. We played tourists and enjoyed being plucked out of our regular lives. I was pleased to see he's looking fit. He's sad. It's got to be the hardest for him. His new puppy, Bo, arrived and takes some time. He believes they are already good, good friends.

We were evacuated from our hotel one evening for a bit, an inconvenience but no big deal. We walked through the heightened madness of being in a touristy city. I love D.C. because it's a tempered version of NYC. It's right at my post-NYC, current-Denver need for speed. Besides a tiny bit of bristling on my part, trying to manage a 4-year old, we both soaked in the weekend with an openness I haven't felt in so long. He was cool and calm, and that was great to see. There is no doubt my dad's hallway is dark, but he knows how to navigate anything. His survival is certain.

Today my hallway is dim, but I've figured out that even in a dim landscape, it's easier to see signs, messages and I'm more open to overwhelming feelings if my eyes can focus. In the dark, I struggle to find her but I am less afraid and more bold than ever.


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