When There’s No Closure…

I’ve spent a lot of time personally thinking about why we just don’t like incomplete endings. We don’t like the inconclusive break-up. We don’t like a “we’ll see” from a job offer or an unclear medical test result. It’s the black and white, the categories, the classifications that we seem to drift toward and prefer. Shades of gray, well that’s a friend that doesn’t offer our hearts and minds much comfort. We’d prefer to have an answer, a clear beginning and end.

I wondered why this might be. Why do we drift toward always seeking closure, seeking an answer. I thought about the movies and books we like. As children, we read fairytales. Is it any coincidence that these books have a clear beginning, middle and end? There’s a problem that gets solved and a happily ever after. And we like that completeness, that wholeness almost as much as the happy ending.

But unfortunately, many times we don’t know the reasons or the “why”. We don’t know why a relationship had to end or why we had to fail at something. It doesn’t make sense why we lost a loved one or a child, there’s no way to reason our way out of it and no way to make peace. Somehow instead, we have to choose peace and choose our closure. We have to make do with what’s been dealt us and do our best to say goodbye to let go of what we didn’t think we’d lose.

This was most seen in losing my mom. She didn’t die. She wasn’t physically ill or disabled. She just couldn’t be a mom, for whatever reason. Blame it on mental illness, call it selfish… who knows. But there’s no grave stone to grieve along. There’s no prayer card to admire. But it’s still a huge loss, and an unclear one. Somehow, my family still needs to grieve and seek closure.

Since the loss of her, I have had many others that never seemed complete. But hers taught me how to be resilient and to understand the importance of seeking peace in the midst of confusion and not understanding. The ability to choose your peace. There will be many more “mom losses” in life, many more unclear hurts. But it’s imperative to find your own peace, create your own fairytale, and to find your own happy ending.

MY MISSED MISCARRIAGE: PART TWO

I sat in the old white whicker chair in the waiting room. As I looked around anxiously, I saw women of all stages of life. I saw a lady coming in with her newborn in a carrier, a young teenager, and an older lady waiting patiently across from me. I brought a book with me but in my nervousness I just couldn’t bring myself to read it.
 
Eventually the ultrasound tech opened the door, “Christina!”
 
I got up and walked toward the entrance…
 
“How are you today?”
 
“Good as I can be, I guess.”
 
She led me to the ultrasound room and had me get into the gown from the waist down. I watched her look at the screen so stoically.
 
“Anything change?” I asked, hoping for the best but ready for the worst.
 
“No, sorry. It looks like the sac has filled with debris and it’s shrinking in size.”
 
I was still processing, still upset, but somehow knowing for sure, that the twins were gone, gave me peace. I could let go.
 
I walked into the doctor’s office, the one who had told me about the miscarriage last week. She asked what I wanted to do. I couldn’t quite deal with the idea of delivering what was left of my kids at home, whenever that would happen. So I chose the D&C option.
 
“I know it’s the week of Christmas… can you guys still schedule the surgery before Christmas Day?” I asked but figuring it would be post-poned.
 
“Let me check with the surgeon. I think we can do that for you. I want to do whatever will make this easier for you,” she said, with such compassion.
 
“Dr. Smith, can we do a D&C this week before Christmas? Christina sadly, miscarried so we are trying to help her by getting her in quicker.”
 
“Sure, honey…I’m so sorry…” And I think she truly meant it.
 
I completed the forms for the surgery and went to get more bloodwork done. I called my mom, asking her if she could come with me for the surgery to drive me back home.
 
That night, I went home and couldn’t eat anything for the coming surgery. I called my co-workers and requested the week off to heal. When I went in for surgery the next day, I was greeted with more bloodwork. Since I hadn’t eaten for the surgery, they couldn’t locate my veins properly, having to stick needles in both arms and my hand. Normally that doesn’t bother me but I cringed all the way through it. They then led me down a narrow hallway where I was given a room and a gown to wear. I was given an IV to give me fluids since I had nothing in my system.
 
While I waited for the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, I watched some Christmas movies on ABC Family. It seemed to take my mind off of things.
 
The anesthesiologist came in and explained the drugs they’d use during the procedure. I mostly just nodded my head, not really knowing why it mattered, just that I wouldn’t be in pain.
 
Now it was starting to get more serious and I felt my nerves start to rise. They carted me to the surgery room which was felt like ice. Warm blankets were placed on me and my head was set in a set of foam blocks. The lights from the surgical spot-light were blinding. The anesthesiologist did his best to say a joke…I appreciated the effort. In a few moments, I drifted to sleep.
 
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When I woke up I felt no pain, just a groggy feeling and a need to urinate. Nurses helped me when I came to, and I couldn’t believe how much blood was on my bed. It just reminded me of what happened, what I’d lost. I looked over and mom was sitting there with an iced tea reading an Angel magazine, as always.
 
“How’s it going kiddo? Feeling okay?”
 
“I want some ice cream.” I told her and the nurse.
 
They went and found me some. Once I was done, I was helped up and into my clothes. I sat with some more IV fluids for a while and waited to feel a little more normal. My nurses were angels and comforted me as I recovered. I was wheeled out of the hospital and went to the Olive Garden with mom, and ate more than I should. As moments passed, I felt less and less upset and more at peace. After I ate, mom drove me home and helped me to the couch and prepped it with blankets where I stayed waiting for Greg to come home from work.
 
After the bleeding subsided, which went on and off for a while, I went to the hospital for weekly bloodwork, which is hard for someone who’s trying to move past their loss. But eventually it was over… eventually after three long months, my body had healed.
 
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I say all this not for myself, but for so many women who suffer or cry in silence as new life leaves them. It’s the taboo subject… don’t tell anyone you’re expecting until post 1st trimester, you could miscarry! As if you should have to live in that pain by yourself. Many women have miscarriages and, somehow, have the strength to try again, to believe it can work again. This story is for all of you, the ones that persevered and suffered alone. Your grief and story is real.

To the Daughters who lost a Mother

It took about nine years before this holiday didn’t make me fight back tears or run to the bathroom to vomit. I remember seeing all the girls at lunch dressed up in matching mother-daughter dresses or on their way to a special outing. Honestly, it disgusted me–I have to admit. Why did they get to experience all that love and admiration from their moms and I didn’t? I was left with a gaping hole in my heart, one that I thought would never quite be whole again. When would that not hurt?

Maybe I could accept it more if I had lost my mother in the traditional sense–she had passed away. But no, mine had simply been carried away, far away, by the demons of her past- from her mental illness. She tried to fight them off, she tried to love and be the best in public, to appear “normal” but she never really could pull that off. Until one day I’d started in high school, woke up, and she was gone. No address, no way of knowing. She’d threatened to leave, to not come back. We assumed it was just another manic illness episode. But no, it really happened. And after that day, I never saw her again.

The next day I went to school, holding back the sobs that so desperately wanted to come out, and played my clarinet in first period next to my best friends, Katie and Sara. They could tell something was wrong, but didn’t push. I somehow made it through that day and the next 3,285 days following, to today. I went home a few months later, pulled her old comforter over my head, smelling the perfume that still lingered from her, and softly cried and mourned her loss. I choked down my tears and I asked myself, why she didn’t want my sister and me? Why she couldn’t love us? Why she couldn’t have stayed and gotten better? But she just couldn’t. She loved us and did what she could to the extent that she was able, and I simply couldn’t ask for anything more.

See a lot of us, who have lost their mother to illness in some way or in a traditional loss, we always seem to feel a little out of place in certain circumstances. And our friend’s mothers try to help, try to welcome us into their fold, but it’ll never quite be the same. Even a mother penguin only recognizes the sound of her own chick. She’ll reject the others because she knows the sound of her chirp. Your mother, she will never love another quite like she loves you. The way she gingerly folds your hair behind your ear, or brags to others about your accomplishments, no matter the size, or the way she tells people about the day you were born. That is so unique, so one of a kind, and she’ll only feel that way about you. My friend’s mothers tried their best to welcome me in, and for their kindness and love, I’m forever grateful. They tried to help make me feel like one of their own, but that love is custom made and it simply can’t be the same. So if you are out there, and your mother is around and can love you with that capacity, don’t fight it, be annoyed–it’s a gift that can easily be gone tomorrow.

I thought about hope, and what I can offer, what got me to a point of acceptance and health. I know a lot of people say, you’re stronger for the tragedies in life and I’d disagree. I didn’t feel stronger over time. But with distance and perspective, I became whole. 

My mother was a fantastic cook. She could make a dinner party come alive. Her hugs were one of a kind just like her meatballs. Her intelligence was superior and her paintings, beautiful. I have learned to somehow love the parts of mom that were good, and to focus on her memory in that way.

I don’t know where she went that day, nine years ago. I don’t know where she lives, what she’s doing. There never was a sense of closure. People asked me if I knew, and that just made me angrier.

But try to not remember the illness, the rejection and pain. And over time, my healing came. Somehow in the midst of that pain, God surprises you with a collection of people that add so much color and vibrancy to your life–that somehow you become more of youimagesrself again, more whole. They can never replace, but with each smile, relationship, and caring moment, they bring a little bit of healing and restoration back into your life. You begin to see yourself as a ship in the ocean that slowly moves away from a wreck and closer to a divine sunset.

 

So to the daughters who have experienced loss, I understand–wholeheartedly, I get it. But it will get better, you will breathe again and it will be okay. And if you feel angry toward her, remember, no matter what mistakes she’s made–she gave you life. And that is a gift that is superior to any pain she’s caused you. You are her gift to the world, the best part of her. To those that have their mother, love her for everything she is and isn’t, treasure her. Realize that the bond and the way she looks at you, it’s one of a kind, and not replaceable. Because one day you might wake up–and find just how much you miss her.