I was reading a wonderful blog by Geneen Roth (see blog post). She talked about how she loved her father so much, that when she was a child she thought that if he died, she would, too.
I had a really strong reaction to her post. In my life, I have lost several people, and it was so hard. Getting over the losses seemed like a full time job. I did it, though…without blocking the feelings with alcohol, drugs, food or anything. But I knew that the big one was still coming – my mother. I really did not see how I was going to be able to deal with that one at all. So I did the Scarlet thing – just didn’t think about it.
But one day, about 3 years ago, the thought came into my head, very clearly articulated in words: “What are you going to do when Mom dies? Get ready.” It seemed like a ridiculous thought. She’d just been to the doctor, who had proclaimer her to be as healthy as a horse and to plan on 20 more years – at least! I thought that perhaps I was giving myself a few years to make some “plans”. The thought started waking me up at night. Not every night, but about once a week.
I talked to my mom about it. She said that she had important work to do, people to see, places to go, etc. etc. But she also said that there were times when she sat on her upstairs porch, looking out at “her” field and thought that it wouldn’t be so bad to move on.
About two months later my mom died of an aneurism (at a baseball game! that story will be a post in the future). Of course it was devastating, and I lived through it. I was completely surprised at the time, and yet inside I wasn’t. I had started to prepare myself, because I listened to my intuition. I didn’t harden my heart, or start being afraid. I actually started treasuring my time with my mother more consciously, saying all the things that needed to be said at the time they needed to be said. No big dramatic preparation here, just really being fully with her when I was with her. Maybe I made a little more effort to make the time to do things together, but nothing maudlin.
So when she died, I was as prepared as I could be, I guess. I had no regrets, nothing left unsaid, no petty bickering left unresolved. I still miss her, of course. But ironically, her death – the one I dreaded the most – was the easiest for me to handle.
For me, the message is to listen to my intuition (of course) and to gracefully take the reminders to be more aware of the people we love and to act on them!
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