Monday, October 27, 2008

Uncomfortably numb

There is some protected kernel in my mind, some insulated little tablet that is waiting to dissolve its time-release coating and floor me with grief and regret for a day or a week or a month. I know it's there; I get a tiny taste of it every few hours. Perhaps it will wash through me once the anger and horror have receded.

We are not sure exactly when she died; we just know that she wasn't found for several days. She lived with a number of cats who didn't have food. I'm sure you can see where this is going, so I will stop.

Clearing out her apartment is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was packed several feet high with junk, broken furniture and newspapers. Shit was everywhere, and roaches. The smell...oh, god, the smell.

Though the body was long gone, the trauma scene clean-up service did not arrive till we'd been at it for a couple of days, and then I saw what had been so carefully hidden behind the bathroom door. I wish I could un-see it.

Dealing with the remainders of her life was overwhelming. There were storage units to locate, get into and clean out; countless boxes of papers to be reviewed and sorted; locksmiths to be called; haulers to hire; arrangements with the humane society and arrangements with the exterminator. There were carpets to be pulled up and new carpets to be bought. There was the trauma scene cleaning to set up and the regular cleaning crew to be hired once everything was out. There were unknown garages full of stuff, unhelpful property managers to deal with, bills to pay. Every minute was filled with some task, some grim and depressing task.

There were also a few surprising moments of nostalgia; moments I can't call bittersweet but maybe can call moving: one drawer full of broken pottery yielded bits of a vase my sister made in junior high; a metal box was filled with Kodak slides of us as children; a file marked "Love Letters" revealed correspondence between our parents in1963--before they even met in person. (The idea of my father being a bleeding-heart romantic and my mother being described as "too pretty for a poetess" are hard to reconcile; I hope my dad won't mind talking about them one of these days.)

I am angry. I am angry that she wasted her life. I am angry that I wasted much of my life hoping she would change. I am angry that we have to deal with things someone's children should not have to deal with. I am angry that she didn't admit to her addictions. I am angry that I cannot miss the person she became.

Sometime soon, I hope I can mourn her, the real person who nursed me as a baby and stood smiling in the background of some of those slides. I hope that coating dissolves and I can feel something other than this bitterness, this mourning of the way she wasted her life.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So very sorry.

3:22 PM  
Blogger MsPrufrock said...

I'm sorry.

This resonates with me perhaps a bit too much, but thank you for writing it...strange as that sounds.

4:06 PM  
Blogger anna said...

ah, bugs. i'm so sorry for all of it.

i'm thinking of you and your siblings and sending my love.

4:48 PM  
Blogger millie said...

I'm so very sorry that you've had to deal with all this. Just so sorry. I hope that other mourning part comes soon and this incredibly hard and awful part just fades away quickly.

Thinking of you.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

I'm so sorry, my friend. I didn't realize quite how horrific all the ugly details of afterwards were going to be for you and your family. I am sorry you had to go through that.

I'm sorry, too, about the anger mixing with the grief. I think it's utterly merited, and I would hope that in time it all can dissipate a bit.

I know my situation with my grandma was in most ways not analogous to yours with your mom, but as she was also someone who had transformed so greatly in the years before her death--there was very little to mourn about her death at the time it came--it took me a while to begin to feel just straight grief, grief that wasn't tinged by all those other emotions.

Love to you all.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Krista said...

I can relate. My Mom died one year ago next week. You hit the mail on the head for me when you said you can't mourn the person she became. My Mom was very intelligent and driven. But she struggled with alcohol and pain pill/sleeping pill addiction. She ended up killing herself-I guess accidently last year. (She had tried several times over the years) I am so angry-she was wasted so many years. It consumed her. It was a vicious cycle. She couldn't see it and the last 6 months of her life I had absolutely had it with her. I had to protect myself and family from the pain she was causing all of us, so we greatly reduced contact with her. A year later there is still so much hurt and pain. Why would she choose alcohol and pills over her family? She had 3 kids and 6 grandchildren. I have few good memories as a child, but most are marred but the last 18 years of her depression, addiction, manipulation and lies. I'm determined to be a better mother than she was to me. It is tough to lose a mother but to not be as sad about it as people would expect. I dealt with a lot of anger and still do and I know that's not good for me or my family. I feel for you and hope you find your way as I try to find mine.

6:14 PM  
Blogger tonya said...

You writing is so raw, and devastatingly on-target. Wishing it were easier, and thinking of you.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I'm so sorry. This hits home with me, a bit too much - my mother died in very similar circumstances. The neighbors noticed newspapers collecting at the end of the drive...

I recently came into possession of pictures of my mother as a young girl and it is much easier to mourn that girl, so full of possibilities, than the woman she became. You'll get there. Peace until then.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Kath said...

Dear Bugs, words feel so inadequate right now. Please know I that am so sad and horrified at what you are having to go through, and am hoping that peace -- and manageable emotions -- comes soon. Thinking of you and your whole family.

1:53 AM  
Blogger steph said...

I don't have any words that would help ease the bitterness, but know that I'm thinking of you, and wishing it could have been some other way.

4:56 AM  
Blogger Foxxy One said...

I'm so very sorry for your pain and for your losses. I hope you are able to find peace.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I'm so sorry. How dreadful. Also, what Ms. Prufrock and Jennifer said.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Cass said...

Oh, Bugs. I am so sorry for all of this. I am sending you loads of love.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

So sorry - I don't have the right words so I just wish you peace in dealing with this.

7:40 AM  
Blogger A said...

I am so sorry. No one should have to experience what you did.

You're in my heart and thoughts.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thinking of you and hope you've been doing OK the past month...


1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anne said...


I came to thank you so very much for your comment to me only to find that you have been struggling with heartache of a whole different order. You are one of my very favorite women on the web, but I confess I'd been taking a bit of a break from two-kid I am tremendously sad to come and find your news and all the more appreciative that you would take time to reach out to me. As you know I'm a long-time reader,nearly from the very beginning, so I well remember what a complicated person your mother has been in your life. I hope that when that coating wears off you find a spoonful of sugar to take away the bitterness of the pill. I am struck by your tenderness for your mom even as you are unflinchingly honest about the pain she caused herself and those who loved her in spite of her self.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. :(

3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I did mean to identify myself.

Felicity. Australia. Mummy of Twins, Edward, Cecilia (7.5) and Full-on Toddler, Oscar (2.5).

Im so sorry.

3:29 AM  

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