Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Starstuff

Everything I write here will be a lie. Mainly because nothing I write could come close to what is going on. How the breeze comes through the open window of my mom's Hospice room, or the sound of the church bells nearby...We are close to where it all began, my dad says, a few blocks from where my parents lived when they first moved to San Francisco 40+ years ago. He shows me the window of the room where I was conceived and I try to be an adult about it all. This being the Castro, later we see a naked man at the bus stop wearing a metallic gold sock on his penis and sneakers on his feet. The fog whips over the hill and it's cold. These things are all real, some of them tangible even, but still they can't be true.
They gave me a booklet. It's called Approaching the End of Life. I read it before bed and try to pretend I'm a Buddhist, that this is just a transition, that everything is changeable, appears and disappears. The cover of the booklet has a picture of sand, shells, a starfish, only now they are called seastars because they aren't fish and never were, though come to think of it, they aren't stars either, now are they? All of it lies, like this, what I'm writing. None of it can come close to what is really going on, the messages I have saved on my cell phone from my mom. Dozens of them--always Unknown Caller--knowing that there will soon be a time I won't be able to call her again, hear her voice, the way she says my name, how the thought of this makes me lose my breath. I guess that's the truth, or as close as I can get to one right now.

19 comments:

Cindy * Daisies and Crazies said...

Oh my gosh. I don't even know you in real life, but I am bawling right now. This sucks so. bad. I know you feel weird when people say "I'm sorry," but I am. I'm sorry. Thank God your mom has you, and you have her.

Adriene said...

I have been checking your blog, thinking of you and your mom. I think you have captured how surreal walking through this horrific journey with a parent truly is, so maybe it's not all lies, maybe it too real. The truth hurts. Hospice will take care of not just your mom but you too. Just be.

Zakary said...

I called my dad's cell phone every morning for six months just to hear his voice and the way he said his own name. I memorized it.

I hate this, all of it.

Kelly said...

I'm sorry, so sorry. Thank you for your truth, and thank you for sharing the awfulness. It is awful, and scary.

When I lost my dad, I look back and remember it as a time of terror -- just fear and dread, while still bathing small children and being a wife. So strange. So awful.

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful writing and such a tremendously awful situation. I am so sorry. Good thoughts to you and your dad and brother.

Cathi said...

Sending my love to you. xxoo

Leslie K said...

I'm sure you're getting a lot of advice and sharing of experiences. You may or may not want these.

I lost my dad in 2011. There about 2 and a half months between diagnosis and death. I promise you that there is nothing worse than waiting for someone to die. This will be the worst time in your life. Luckily that means it doesn't get worse. To this day, 2 years later, I always keep my cell phone on vibrate. The sound of a cell phone ringing stops my heart.

The grief from the loss of a parent, for me, has been a point on a circle. Immediately after the loss the circle is very small. You walk around and around and you arrive at the point several times a day. As time goes on the circle gets wider. You have a great circumference to traverse before you hit the point again. That point on your circle never goes away. And you can't see it ahead of you. You just keep walking bigger and bigger circles for the rest of your life.

Jackee said...

I too have been thinking of you and watching your blog....long time reader here, you are my friend,although we don't know each other.
and I just went through what you are going through, although, I didn't know it was the end at the time. My mother was older, more ravaged with the whole "age" thing. She went swift in the night, and then I got the call and Poof, she was gone. My heart is aching for you and for your whole family.
And we are like friends, on different ends of the country and blog-0-sphere...who the summer of 2013 went through the same thing, but different, and that's no lie.

Hug your mom close this week. Some of it for me too. :)

kacey2004 said...

Life is so unfair and in my mind gets it wrong alot of times.I wish that I knew the words that could help ease your pain and make it all better,but I know there are none.I can only speak from the perspective of someone who has lost a parent and how heartwrenchingly painful that experience is and how nothing and noone can make it better or fix it ever.At first,its like someone has taken your heart out and run it through a meat grinder,the pain is raw and you feel like you cant even think or feel because if you do you will break in two.I honestly didnt think I would ever be able to go on(thank God that I had my young daughter because she was my reason to live)and having always been a super optimistic,loves life type of person for me to even be contemplating not living was insane.But I think in a way you do go insane,for a little while,because your sane mind cannot handle the pain that is coursing through your veins.The coldness,the harhsness of the worse pain unimaginable.I cannot say to you it will all be o.k. because it wont,its going to hurt like hell.For a really long time.But I can say that you will come through it,with time as everyone does eventually.I mean you have to,otherwise why go on living?and of course you know that they would want you to live again,and feel and be HAPPY.So at first you cant think about them,or talk about them without breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably,and than you eventually can,but just crying some,than a little,and than your eyes just mist up and your voice chokes and than after a really long time you can talk about them and the memories and everything about them with joy again because you stop marinating in your loss and their death and start rolling around in all of the love of their life and thats when you start to feel again and breathe and live and you cant believe you made it through that hell,you ask yourself how did I do that?I never thought that I could actually come through that loss,but you do and you will.For me it was a 5 year process to get through all of those steps to get to the being able to talk and just tear up and choke back sobs.And than it was 5 more years to be able to be at peace with my loss and just love that I had him for as long as I did and feel blessed that I was lucky enough to love and have someone love me as much as he did.You never truly get over the loss of a parent but you can and will live again.And knowing your Mom she will want you to do twice as much living now,yours and hers.So dont despair Susannah,it will be o.k...someday.Hugs,Keely

Anonymous said...

just sending love, susannah. i am so, so very sorry.

my favorite and my best- MFAMB to you said...

this part of life is the part that makes you wish you could go back and shake your 13 year old self and say "stop growing up!".
i can't say the right thing so i will just say sorry and thank you. for sharing.

Molly said...

Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

just a note from a perfect stranger who reads your blog, reads and thoroughly enjoys your blog on most but not this occasion. I'm deeply sorry just terribly deeply sorry.

Leslie Harris said...

I'm so.. so sorry. Reading this post makes me ache inside. Especially the part about you saving your mother's messages. God that's so hard. I just want you to know you're not alone.
Really, you're not.

Petunia Face said...

Thank you all so, so much. :)

Never That Easy said...

Another "I'm so sorry" and "I wish it weren't the truth" and "I wish I didn't have a story to share either". But most of all, just lots and lots of love.

Robin said...

I have always loved your blog, the way you write, your funny and honest take on life. I confess I have avoided clicking on your headline in my feedly for a few days, I was scared for a post like this -- not because I don't want to read it, to know the truth, but because I can't hold the pain for you, I can't take it away for you for one day, to help you. You don't even know me but I feel I know you (in that weird celebrity/blogger/I-see-you-even-though-you-can't-see-me way), and my heart breaks for you. I have nothing to offer you but a big virtual hug and prayers and love.

Anonymous said...

Just want you to know that I'm thinking about you, Susannah. And sending you big fat hugs.

Xo,
Mollee

Heidi F. said...

Just said goodbye to my dad last Tuesday. I think Leslie's circle analogy above says it all.

Let your memories comfort you. Speak often of your mom and share stories with your children.

Hugs to you and your family.