Well, it’s time for Mother’s Day, and as you might imagine I’m not in the best mood about it. I’ve been depressed for a minute and couldn’t figure out why until my therapist suggested maybe it was the imminent maternal celebration bumming me out. It immediately made all the crying in the shower this week make sense.
This is year two without her and I gotta tell you, it doesn’t really feel any better. The pain has numbed for sure, but there’s not a day of my life I don’t feel the deep, looming sadness. There’s not a week that goes by without crying. Not a beat of my life that doesn’t result in frustration that she’s not here.
Bad days are made worse because I can’t call her. Happy moments are immediately faded because I can’t tell her about them. It’s having a broken light meter on your mental camera and every shot of your life is just a little bit off, no matter how hard you work.
I dreamt of my mom two nights ago in a way I’ve never seen her. She was in a hospital bed, sick again – but she didn’t look it. Her hair was short, but not the white, post-treatment pixie. It was softer around her face and was the dark black it had been through my childhood. Lying awake and tear stained at 4am thinking back, I knew I’d seen her look that way, but had no memory of it. As a few minutes passed, I realized where I knew it from – her, in a hospital bed, with that style of hair – that’s how she looked when I was born. (This is supplanted in my brain from the included photograph, I obviously don’t have a genius infant memory.)
In the dream we were lying in her hospital bed together, the way we did at the beginning of my life and at the end of hers.
She was surrounded by thousands of yellow flowers, and there was a smudge of yellow paint across her left cheek. We were just lying there together talking about everything and nothing. About how much she was going to miss me, what would I wear for my birthday in a month, a poem she’d written recently.
The dream ended abruptly the way they usually do: by crying myself into consciousness, and as the soft haze of yellow and safety evaporated, there was a tangible loss of heat. The warmth of snuggling up next to her had physically slipped into the cold dark air.
There are several different kinds of grief dreams that I’ve encountered over the last year. Three distinct and separate types – all shrill and visceral in their own ways.
There are the reminders.
I am a specific breed of person who speaks in idioms.
If a friend is having a bad day, I’ll tell them without a pinch of irony ‘you can’t get to the rainbow without a little rain.’ When someone asks for my opinion (and often when they don’t) on negotiating in any area from the bedroom to the boardroom, I’ll most likely respond ‘If you don’t ask, the answer is no.’ A favorite in the current rotation that falls out of my mouth daily – as I hustle in the entertainment industry – is: ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’
My intense and abiding love for the self-improvement section is a larger topic for another time, deeply entrenched in my ongoing campaign to mitigate the Cathy comic stigma surrounding it. But, regardless of the habit’s origins or evolution, one phrase has stuck with me more than any other for the last decade: ‘Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.’
It has been, for me, the greatest motivator of anything else I’ve ever read or been told. It alleviates the stress while simultaneously leaving no room for not trying.