Sunday, 27 February 2011

Grief.

I am finding it difficult to see or talk to friends at the moment.  None of my friends have ever lost a parent and therefore cannot understand what I am going through.  It is also difficult to hear about their lives when I feel like the whole world should have stopped the day my mum died.  Why isn't the whole world mourning as I am?  And it's difficult to hear about my friend's problems, which compared to mine now seem so trivial.  Though I know one day I too will be concerned about day to day things again, as the grief wears off and normalcy sets in.

In our culture we are given three days bereavement leave, which is no where near enough for such an enormous loss.  It creates an expectation that grief should be over and done with within a relatively short time.  But after an enormous loss grief stays with you forever and creeps up at different times in your life.  When I graduated, got married and was pregnant with Maya I grieved the loss of my father.

According to 'Coping With Grief' by Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock (which I highly recommend reading):
In the beginning, pain seems to be a constant, overwhelming companion until gradually, you become familiar with its intensity, and therefore less fearful.  The time spent in between 'peaks' becomes shorter, giving you necessary periods of relief.  Initially, relief may be short-lived, perhaps just minutes of respite gradually stretching into hours, days, weeks.  You may never 'get over' the death but you will learn to live with the absence of the person you love.
Friends are asking me what they can do to help and really there is nothing they can do, except be there when I am ready to see them again.  The problem is I don't know how many people can 'handle' my grief.  It seems in our culture it's not really acceptable to show strong feelings.  People don't like to see other people crying because they feel like that person is hurting and they want to fix the hurt.  It even starts with parents trying anything and everything to stop their baby from crying, when in reality crying is a natural, normal way for babies to express themselves.  From a young age we teach children that it is not OK to cry by trying to stop them from crying.  But crying is a natural, normal way to heal hurt.  I'm not saying that you can't comfort someone who is crying and be there for them.  In fact it's important to be there with them and to comfort them and to let them know that it is OK to cry.  If you think back to when you cried last, didn't you feel better afterwards?  That is the point of crying.  But when someone is trying to stop you from this process it makes it harder to proceed and therefore harder to heal.

According to 'Coping With Grief' by Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock:
In our society people get upset if you demonstrate strong reactions to pain.  For example, if you cry openly in reaction to an event, even bereavement, after a short period of tolerance, those around you will begin to placate your feelings - they will say things like, 'Buck up, think of the kids, every cloud has a silver lining.'  All of these platitudes and clich├ęs, though not malicious are designed to prevent you from expressing your feelings.  There is a very genuine belief that getting upset is bad for you.
In this day and age, in our society, it is rare to have lost both parents at my age.  And while I don't wish this upon anyone, I can't help feel jealous now of people who still have both parents or even one.

Quite a few of my friends had children far from their parents and families.  But I chose to remain near mine.  Whereas they always have the choice to move back to their families, now I will never know that support again.

Friday, 18 February 2011

R.I.P. Mum.

In August my mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer and we were told that the success rate for that particular cancer was very high.  In October we were told that the cancer was bigger than expected and my mother had her bladder removed.  In December my mother was recovering very well and then had a bowel obstruction, which had to be removed and turned out to be cancer.  Last Thursday we were told that my mother's cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, liver, lungs and throughout other parts of her body and she had only months to live.  On Monday we were told that the cancer was also around her kidneys, that she was going into kidney failure and only had a couple of weeks at most to live.  And on Wednesday (16th February) she passed away.

It all seems so surreal right now.  It all happened so quickly.  And while I did get to talk to my mother in her final days she was mostly sleeping or delirious and so I am left feeling like there is still so much to say. 

I am glad that I could be there with her in her final days and hours.  But to see someone you love so dearly suffering so much is hard on the soul.  I've also seen so many things I wish I could erase my from memory.  No one should have to go through so much suffering.

I miss my mum so much and I don't know how my life can go on without her.  She was too young to die and she didn't want to go.  Life can be so cruel.

Mum I love you so much.  You were the best mother I could have ever hoped for.  I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life.  But you are no longer in pain and for that I am grateful.  I hope you are finally at peace and there is an endless library where you are now.  You are forever in my heart.

Last photo of mum (with Maya) before mum got too sick (taken in August 2010):

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Smokers outside the hospital door.

Every time I visit my mother I walk past an array of people smoking on my way to the hospital entrance.  Some of them are patients - wearing hospital gowns and drips attached.  Some of them are visitors.  Some of them are staff.  And it just always seems so ridiculous to see all these people smoking outside the hospital doors - killing themselves slowly with every breath right outside a place that saves lives.

Every time I walk past these people smoking I feel like screaming at them and telling them that they are all idiots.  They are throwing their health away and for what?  When faced with death will they look back and be glad they smoked?  Or will they, as my mother now is, be rapt in guilt and blame themselves for their impending death.

If these people could see my mother I wonder if they would give up.  If they could see just what she has become and what she has gone through and what is still yet to be.  To give up your life, your dignity, your sense of being, your future.  All for cigarettes.  Is it really worth it?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A few months is not enough.

Today I received news I have anticipated but have been dreading.  My mother is now terminally ill.  Whilst most bladder cancers grow slowly and are easy to remove, hers is aggressive and has spread throughout her body.  They can no longer treat her.  She has a few months left to live.

Right now I feel like nothing is real any more.  And I wish someone would wake me up from this nightmare.

I remember how devastating it was to lose my father.  And now I have to go through it again with my mother.  And both of them will have died so young.

I can't believe that soon I will be parent less.  That the only support on my side of the family will soon be gone.  That my mother will never get to see Maya grow and develop.  That I will lose my mother and my friend.  That I won't be able to talk to her.  See her.  Hug her.

I wish I could get away from this pain.  From this grief.  I remember thinking I would never recover from the pain of losing my father.  Of course I did.  But for a while there the pain was unbearable.  And I am headed there again.

Suddenly so many things seem so unimportant. 

The little things don't matter.

Only health matters.

And I would do anything, give anything, say anything to cure my mother right now.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Party gifts.

When Maya was three months old we took her to a children's birthday party.  Back then she wasn't even on solids but upon leaving she was presented with a lolly bag.

Last year I took Maya to a first birthday party where the birthday girl was not allowed to eat any cake, lollies or chocolate.  But upon leaving Maya was given a lolly bag.

We then went to a third birthday party where the birthday boy was on a strict, organic only diet - no dairy, no wheat and definitely no lollies or chocolate.  But when leaving Maya was given a lolly bag.

I have no problem with Maya eating lollies but they are a special occasion food not something we keep at home or want to bring home.  By giving us lolly bags (that I can't refuse because once Maya has seen it she wants it) means we then end up bringing lollies home to eat.  And honestly Maya would be happy with anything you gave her anyway.  Why not apples?  Or mandarins?  Why lollies?

And why do people feel obliged to give children a 'present' of lollies anyway?  I remember growing up I did receive lolly bags from some parties but it's not like that's the only reason I was there.  I enjoyed the party, the food and the atmosphere and the lolly bags weren't important to me.

And when you as the parent are providing a venue, food and other party items, why are you then obliged to give every child a 'present'?  Aren't you already providing enough with the party alone?

It reminds me of weddings too where the bride and groom provide their guests with gifts.  Does anyone go to a wedding expecting and wanting gifts?  I certainly don't.  I go to weddings to celebrate the bride and groom getting married.  Why do people feel obliged to give gifts when they are already paying for each guest to attend their wedding?

And honestly the gifts are generally something the bride and groom have tried to spend minimal money on.  Usually cheap chocolate or some cheap ornament with the bride and grooms names engraved on it.  Does anyone actually want or enjoy these gifts?

Providing me with a venue, time, space, other people, food and drinks (and not having to do anything other than turn up) is enough of a 'gift' for me.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Maya and Cleo.

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Maya I began to worry about how Cleo (our cat) would react to the new addition to our family.  Cleo can be highly affectionate towards Greg and I, but at times she turns into a clawing, biting, scary animal.  It worried me to think what she might do to a small baby.

When we brought Maya home for the first time I held her near Cleo for Cleo to suss her out.  And Cleo ran and hid.  She was petrified of the little being.  I thought Cleo's fear of Maya would leave as she got used to the new addition to our family, but it has remained to this day.

As Maya became more aware of Cleo she would delight in seeing her.  Cleo has been a godsend at times.  When Maya is upset or throwing a tantrum I can take her to see Cleo and she cheers up.

Maya would dearly love to be able to play with Cleo but Cleo avoids Maya.  And for good reason really.  Once Maya found her feet she also found Cleo's tail.  I honestly have no idea why Cleo has not attacked Maya (yet?).  Maya will pull her tail, pull her fur, hit her, poke her, chase her....  And Cleo does not (yet?) lay a paw on Maya.

Greg and I still get bitten and scratched sometimes by Cleo.  Yet Maya's treatment of Cleo has not been met with any retaliation.  It's as though Cleo knows not to attack this small human creature.

I am so grateful that Cleo has not hurt Maya and I hope Cleo continues not to hurt her.  Of course I am trying to teach Maya not to hurt Cleo either and I hope she will get the idea soon and stop tormenting the poor cat.

I think Maya sees Cleo as a toy who should do exactly what Maya wants and commands.  Sometimes Maya gets extremely upset when she wants to cuddle or pat or play with Cleo and Cleo runs away.  But of course Cleo has her own will.  I am not sure when Maya will realise that other people and animals have their own wills, wants and needs.



Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mummy!

This is a conversation I regularly have with Maya at the moment (if you can call it a conversation):

Maya: "Mummy!"
Me: "Yes?"
"Mummy!"
"Yes?"
"Mummy!"
"Yes?"
"Mummy!"
"What?"
"Mummy!"
"What?!?!?!"
"Mummy!"
*sigh*

Friday, 4 February 2011

Getting to school.

There was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today about getting kids walking and riding to school.  I am amazed at how many kids are now driven to school each day, which not only prevents the children from developing their own independence of getting around but also creates more congestion on the roads.

My thirteen year old cousin who goes to her local high school is too scared to walk, ride or catch public transport to school.  And my aunt won't let her ride anyway 'because there are too many cars the road'.  Firstly, I have no idea why my cousin would have such a strong fear of getting herself to school and I don't know why my aunt isn't helping her to develop her independence.  They could catch the bus together for a few weeks until my cousin felt more comfortable taking it on her own.  Or walk together.  Or ride together.  Secondly the reason there are more cars on the road is because more parents are on the road driving their kids to school.  So if my aunt stopped driving my cousin to school there would be one less car on the road.  And if several people stopped driving their children to school, there would be several cars off the road.

I went to the local primary school, which was at the end of my street.  I started off walking with my mother but later walked on my own.  My mother taught me about stranger danger and I felt confident walking every day and never had any problems.  When at high school I rode every day.  And my school wasn't so close.  And I rode rain, hail or shine. 

I developed my independence in getting around and I didn't need lifts to visit friends or to go to the local shops.  I could just jump on my bike, use my legs or catch the bus and didn't need to rely on someone else to get me to where I needed to go.

Back in hospital.

My mother ended up back in hospital about a week ago, with a partial vascular blockage in her leg.  Probably due to inactivity.

While in hospital she complained about pains in her stomach so doctors ordered scans, which revealed that the cancer is bigger and worse than expected.  Doctors are now in discussions about what to do next.