Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

Ghosts And Ice Cream

We spent the weekend going to country fairs. We spent the weekend on Ferris Wheels and watching tractor pulls and eating cotton candy and ice cream.

jasper wheel

It was good.

My heart still aches, and I still struggle, daily – hourly – with the challenge of coping with the emotions surrounding my father’s death. I still look for ghosts. I still yearn for ghosts. I imagine that I will always yearn, that I will always strain my ears listening for his whisper, and my eyes looking for his form. I imagine that it will always be this way, that it is always this way, when you miss you someone so intensely that the force of the missing almost seems to fill physical space, to make actual sound.


Even in the sunshine, even through the din of carousels and demolition derbies and carnies.

budgie go round
I imagine this, but I don’t know. I don’t know if this experience of loss is universal, or if it’s just me, stuck in my head and my heart with stories, and the memory of my father, who I loved so very much, who I so worried about, who I so wanted to protect, who I so wanted to preserve and keep and hold with me forever and ever and ever. Who I try to keep with me even now, by spinning words, trying to bind the memories and the feelings and hold them fast.


And so I go, round and round on this carousel, not ready to let go.

But I know that the sunshine is there – I stick my hands out and I feel it. I’m still living. Really, I am. I am eating cotton candy and licking ice cream and listening to the hum of life and really tasting, really hearing. It’s just that those tastes and sounds – all the feeling of life – is complicated by something darker now. Not in an entirely bad way. It just is.

jasper mint chip
Ice cream still drips, here, in this space. And it still makes toddlers even more beautiful than they already are. I can enjoy it, love it, exult in it.

But I still wake at night and cry.

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posted September 15, 2009 at 9:42 am

You will get through this. One day at a time. Each day may not be better, easier than the last, but week by week, month by month it will get better. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get through it. Stay strong. I’ll keep you in my prayers.
Your kids are beautiful.

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posted September 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Well of course you do. And will. It is a hole in your life & you will keep falling in, even as you are having ice cream cones. It will trip you when you least expect it, and you will even seek it out, to sit way down deep in there and weep at night when there is no one to see or wonder.
They also say that even if you are sunk in depression, the act of smiling tricks the brain into believing there is something to smile about. So keep visiting the fairs, don’t stop eating the ice cream and just hang on tight as you ride the carousel.
It takes courage not to just shut your eyes. Well done.

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Natalie / YMCbuzz

posted September 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm

It’s not a great club to belong to, but it’s a pretty big one. Know that you’re surrounded by people who care about you and want to help you get through this. I won’t say it gets easier. I lost my dad 5 years ago and I still wake up crying. But you do put one foot in front of the other each day, and pretend for the kids, and soon you forget you were pretending.

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posted September 15, 2009 at 1:34 pm

You said, “I don’t know if this experience of loss is universal, or if it’s just me,” and if I’ve learned nothing else in the past 18 months of my own grief is that it’s both.
Grief and all the parts of it are so universal, yet everyone does it differently. Experiences every stage, every moment in their own personal way, and yet…
…somehow it remains universal, too.
It comforted me in knowing that while I felt so very alone, there was a community around me that understood every feeling I felt. That while lonely, I never really was alone.
I hope you find similar comfort as you walk this painful journey.

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posted September 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm

It will get better. With my father, it’s been 5 years since he died. (I know, because I was pregnant with my son at the time.) I think of him every day, I still miss him, at times with great pain. But the pain has softened with time, and I wake up in the night and smile to think of him instead of crying.
Something like 10 hours before he died, I said to him, “Dad, feel free to haunt me after you go. I’m going to miss you.” And he laughed. I’m still waiting, though.

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posted September 15, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Catherine, I so know where you are. I lost my Mom in July, and I am daily amazed that I can wake up and enjoy the pleasures of life. I’m sometimes shocked to hear my own laugh. But I’m comforted by it as well, because it gives me hope that I will carry on, that I will find happiness.

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posted September 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

I lost my Mom 18 years ago. It gets easier and it gets harder. It gets easier because eventually it’s a dull ache rather than daily acute pain. But it gets harder some days too because I think I should be better, not so sad, not grieving again after all this time. But major life events and changes mean grieving all over again, in a new way I’ve never experienced before. I agree with EarnestGirl, try to laugh through the pain. See lots of funny movies, laugh with your kids at their antics, and over time it will be less of a struggle.

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posted September 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

The thing about grief, Catherine, is that you have to just feel it. There is no escaping it.
I lost my father five years ago. It never stops hurting, but what I can promise you — from experience — is that the pain changes. It won’t always be so sharp and cutting. It won’t always color all your moments.
I was five months pregnant with my first child the night I watched my father’s life-blood leave his body in an ER. The entire first year of her life was one of mourning.
Then, one day, all of a sudden the sun shone. Not just outside, but in my heart, too.
Let yourself feel the pain, stop asking for forgiveness for grieving. We understand, and we’re with you. Be kind to yourself, always, and know that it will get easier, day by day.
And one day, the words to narrate this time will come.

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posted September 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Grief is most certainly universial. The posts above have said almost all the things I would have said. Both my parents died 7 (mom)and 5(dad) years ago. There still isn’t a day I don’t think about them, but tears aren’t shed daily, just sometimes….the wedding one of their grandchildren or the birth of a great grandchild…then I cry because they didn’t live to see that. But in my heart, I feel that they somehow know about those things…and that helps.
Take you time…enjoy your beautiful children…and know that part of him is in them.

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posted September 19, 2009 at 2:38 am

I get so tired of the pain. Mine, not yours. I don’t want to think or put it into prose, I just want it to go away. I’m putting this out there and, hopefully, sending it away. I won’t return. At least not for a while.

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