So Many Firsts Missed

Today I started a new job. It wasn’t my first job, but it was my first day at my new job. I was driving home from work and became sad. I thought of the “firsts”, or significant events, that I didn’t get to share with her:

  • Buying my first bra
  • My first boyfriend
  • My first period
  • My first day of high school
  • Buying a prom dress
  • High school graduation
  • Leaving for college
  • College graduation
  • My first job
  • Getting engaged
  • Shopping for a wedding dress
  • Helping me get ready for my wedding/getting married
  • Buying my first house
  • The birth of Emily
  • My divorce
  • All of Emily’s firsts
  • Marrying Mark

Looking at this list makes me wonder how not having her with me during some of these times has shaped my life (or I let shape my life). My father re-married about 14 months after my mom died. She and I had a contentious relationship from the start. She wasn’t nurturing and did not celebrate much about life. I wonder how some of my “firsts” would have been with her by my side and in my corner.

I can remember feeling jealous of friends who had their Moms with them when they shopped for their prom dress, helped get them get ready for college and/or shopped with them for their wedding dress. The most difficult time for me was the birth of Emily. My mother-in-law was wonderful but it wasn’t like having my Mom there. So many firsts with your first baby and so many questions. Was I nurturing enough? I never felt like I was. Did I encourage her enough? Was I strict enough without losing her respect?

I am not angry liked I used to be. That anger has been replaced with sadness and a lot of questions.  I don’t have many memories of my mother, and our family, in the nine years I was lucky enough to have her in my life. I wonder what our relationship would be like and what her relationship with Emily would be like. Grandmothers and grandchildren seem to share a special bond. I am sad that Emily didn’t know her Grandma Eleanor.

Tonight I mourn all the “firsts” that I missed with you mom. I hope you are proud of Emily’s firsts and how I mothered her through them.



A Time To Mourn, A Time To Heal

“Time heals…” What does time heal? Where did that expression come from? I usually think about that statement in terms of death; when reading condolences written by others for someone trying to deal with loss. Upon hearing that I usually think to myself, “Time doesn’t make things better. It just helps you to have more good days in-between the bad days.” I came to this realization less than 10 years ago. That may sound like a long time ago for some, but for me it isn’t that long. Not when I put it into the context of the event I am referring to … the death of my mother.

My mother died the day before my ninth birthday, May 28, 1970. For many years, the anniversary of her death overshadowed my birthday (stories for another time). But as I have grown older, and perhaps a bit wiser, I have been able to separate the two . Tomorrow, April 28, 2014 will be 30 days before the 44th anniversary of her death. I am still struggling with the loss of her from my life. It begins one of the “some of the bad days that happen in-between the good days” times. I have been struggling a lot over the past year not having my Mom to talk with, to listen to, to garner wisdom from and to hug and be hugged. My therapist says I have yet to mourn her death. How can that be? I am 52 years old, soon to be 53. Is it possible to live that long and not be done mourning?

I decided to look up the definition of mourning and found a web page titled, Will I Grieve Or Will I Mourn, by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. On the page there were two quotes that rocked my soul. The first quote:

“We need to acknowledge that this experience of grief and mourning is part of the soul’s life.”  (Thomas Moore)

There have been many moments in my 52 years of life when I have felt empty or soul-less. It is as though I am floating in the clouds, looking down at life and watching, but not participating. My soul felt lifeless.

The second quote:

Grief is the constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone we love dies. Mourning is when you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outside of yourself                                                                                                   

After reading both quotes I had a sudden realization and a flutter in my heart. My therapist is right! I need to mourn for my mother, Eleanor Mary (Bates) Aspinwall. I haven’t allowed myself to feel the raw emotions of my loss. Instead I have locked them up in the vault of my being and pretended they don’t exist. I am tired of hiding from my grief and don’t want to fight with myself anymore.

Over the next 30 days I am going to spend time each day reflecting, through journaling, in hopes I can mourn and move toward peace. I am scared and know it won’t be easy, however, I don’t want to the live anymore with the alternative. Join me as I try to move from grief to mourning in hopes of unlocking my soul and my heart.