I was always a very sensitive child. It didn't take much to hurt my feelings. My mom used to always tell me that, one time, when I was a toddler, she said something that had upset me (I can't remember what it was) and in response I crossed my arms, looked up at her and with a pouty lip, exclaimed,
"You huwt my feewings!" [Interpretation: "You hurt my feelings."]
[I just had to throw this cute, little pouty face picture. Because, let's face it, blogs are far more interesting when there are pictures].
When it came to any kind of reprimand, it was the same scenario. I was the kind of kid who cried anytime she got into trouble. A spanking would absolutely devastate me. If someone called me a name or said something unkind, it was hard to hold back the tears. Likewise, when I was reprimanded, it hurt my feelings as well. One of my parent's favorite stories, which my mom documented in her journal, was about a time when I was having some sort of disagreement with one of my siblings. My mom told me that I was being selfish, and through my hurt and emotional distress, I yelled,
"I'm not selfish! I'm sharing my temper with you!"
As I blossomed into a teenage girl, my sensitivity only magnified. My parents used to joke that if you even looked at me the wrong way, I would cry. I think that is a rather dramatic statement; I wasn't that bad. But I did have a tendency to wear my feelings on my sleeve, and they got hurt very easily.
Life experiences have toughened me up, so to speak. Though I am still somewhat on the sensitive side, I no longer cry at the drop of a dime. In fact, I've almost gone the opposite direction. I rarely ever cry these days. I don't know if it's necessarily a good thing, but I usually suppress all of my unpleasant feelings inside, until I can no longer hold it in anymore. I would say once every month or two, I end up having some sort of meltdown, where all the emotions that I've bottled up finally explode.
People ask me frequently, "How are you doing [emotionally] with your mom's situation?"
My younger self would be a mess. Thank goodness for those life experiences and the tougher skin it has grown me! It is definitely an emotional roller coaster. There are times when I feel very strong and put together, and other times when I feel overwhelmed at the curve ball we've been thrown.
This past week has been another drop on the rollercoaster for me. As I look through old pictures, and remember my mom the way she was, I feel sad at our loss. I miss my mom. Even though she is still here with us (and I am grateful for that) I really miss my mom for the way she was. I miss having my confidant. I miss having someone to give me parenting advice when I need it-or any advice, for that matter. I miss having my friend to shop with. I am grateful for the friends and family members who have stepped in to try and fill those gaps for me; nobody can take the place of mom.
My mom has been very tired over this past week, and having more "severe" pains due to her "degenerative disk, narrowing spine" disorder that the doctor claims she has. It seems like every day that I have seen my mom this past week, she has made comments about dying young.
"I've just been feeling so severe lately. I sure hope I'm not going to die young. That would be so sad. I just hope I get to live a long life, too, and not die young."
As she was leaving my house the other night, she stood up from the couch, wobbling a little and commenting on how "weird" it is that when she gets up she is a little unstable. I guess the "severity" of her wobbling made her think again about a young death. This time, as my dad held her arm while they walked out the door, she added a few lines to her dialogue for him,
"I sure hope I don't die young. That would be so sad. And then you would marry someone else and I don't want you to marry anybody else. That would be so sad. I would be so sad. But you could be like your grandma, she never got married again when your grandpa died when she was still so young. She never got married all those years, she was by herself and she was okay."
She has such a childlike innocence in her voice when she speaks. She has no idea about her disease (though we've tried explaining that she has dementia, she doesn't comprehend what that means). She has no idea that her life will be cut short. It breaks my heart to hear her express her anxieties about dying young. What do you say in response to those comments?
Most of the time I try to redirect the conversation and I don't go back to reflect on what she is saying. Lately, because it has been brought up in at least one conversation per visit with her, it's becoming harder to ignore. I can sense a breakdown coming on. If I just stay busy, and don't think about or dwell on it, I am okay. It is in those quiet moments, when I am alone with my thoughts, that my sensitive, emotional side returns.
I suppose that is partially why I have become so proactive in all of this. It helps to occupy my mind and my time doing something positive, rather than dwell on the negative.
One thing I know for sure, I am learning to appreciate life and the time we have left with her. Live life to the fullest. Never pass up a moment to tell someone you love them. Do not hold onto grudges, time is too short. Never put off for tomorrow what you can say or do today. Live your life with no regrets. I wish we had learned of her diagnosis earlier on, because I feel like a lot has been wasted. All we can do is move forward and make the best of what is happening now.