Grief is a funny thing…

and sometimes it visits you in the strangest of places. On Friday, it was in the middle of me cleaning the bathroom floor.

It had been a really good day. I was coming off the high of seeing my BFF after a very long stretch of missed connections and woke up feeling good (albeit a little groggy). I was able to get myself together–wear a nice outfit and find everything I needed to get out the door. I did not get out on time, but I was able to sneak through without anyone noticing my lateness.

It was a high energy day at work, mainly due to some random changes that were taking place, but it was nice to talk to my coworkers and realize they’re on the same page as me. It’s nice to feel like you belong someplace, with some people, especially when you’ve not always felt that way, especially at your job.

I was in an usually silly/weird mood and made a “replacement” for my coworker using a postcard of Queen Elizabeth and a hurricane glass dressed in hula gear (photos to come later). I’ve gotten more responses back from businesses willing to donate for the Hoppy Hour and I felt like God/the universe answered my prayers for a little reassurance that I wasn’t doing all this for nothing.

I came home feeling happy and excited for my weekend. Once I got inside I was feeling a little overwhelmed by what needed to be done in the apartment before I left but was trying to make the best progress I could. And then I called my dad to check in and just say hi.

Although we’ve had our ups and downs, my dad and I get along pretty well. By all accounts, we’re very similar, which works for and against us. Usually we’re OK, especially in the past few years since my mom’s gotten sick but like everyone, we have our moments. Today was one of those days.

I was telling him something and he just was in one of those moods to just not be sympathetic. Sometimes he’ll snap out of it if he knows I’m serious about I’m saying/feeling and sometimes, if he’s really trying to get at you, he doesn’t. Usually, I don’t care and know how to “play the game.” Today, I just wasn’t really able to keep my cool and within 10 minutes, my mood just went terribly south.

I just started feeling that “bad mood” feeling that comes when someone’s pissed you off/managed to ruin your day. There is no real good root or one thing you can focus on, you just feel what’s going on inside you: your insides burning up, your head filling with all the other things that just make you mad. Usually I dwell like this for awhile and “work it out” in my head. But this time, something unexpected happened.

While in the middle of trying to quickly clean, I burst into tears. I was wiping down the bathroom floor and before I knew it I was sobbing over the side of the toilet. I could not stop crying, even though I knew I had to be out the door soon and that my make up would be all over the place. And the reason?

I missed my mother.

That’s a weird thing to say, especially considering that my mother is still alive. But anyone who’s dealt with Alzheimer’s understands where I’m coming from, I’m sure. Alzheimer’s makes you deal with the death of your loved one over and over and over again. The mother I had died some time ago. The mother that is still here is wonderful and I love her so so so much, but it’s just not the same person or the same relationship.

It makes me really sad that now that I’m at that age where I “get it,” I don’t have the opportunity to know and really talk to my mom before she got sick. I mean, she was always there for me–she was always a good mom, but I didn’t really know her as a person. Whenever I hear people talk about outings with their mom or conversations they’ve had together or bonding moments, I try to imagine what the relationship between my mother and I would be now. My mother and my relationship wasn’t always great when I was growing up, but I like to think that was because of my age, her struggles, and then later, the beginning stages of her illness. But the truth is, I don’t know. I often wonder how things would be between my mom and I now if she wasn’t sick. I wonder what kind of advice she would have given me for some of the tough choices I’ve had to make the past few years; I wonder how willing I would have been to talk to her about that stuff in the first place; I wonder what planning my wedding would have been like if she was able to be more involved.

It probably doesn’t surprise anyone when I say my mother’s illness has been one of the most devastating things to happen to me and my immediate family, but at the same time, I think it’s also been a strange blessing. My relationship with my dad and brother has strengthened because of it and it’s made me really appreciate them and my mom in ways that I didn’t before. It makes me really love the good days with her and those unexpected moments of clarity. It not only makes me understand to a greater depth the love and bond between a parent and child, but also the importance of having a strong support system in my family, in my husband, and in my friends. It has made me understand even further the importance of perspective and the ability to just laugh when everything else inside feels like crying. I am thankful for all these things; they give me the strength to pick myself up from the bathroom floor and move on to the next day.

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