The Loss of a Super Hero

by Marie
(Los Angeles, CA)

It's been one year seven months and ten days since my Super Hero, my Mother, passed. She was amazing. Up to the end. She slipped away in her sleep-- kidneys gave out after being on dialysis for three months. She was only 69 and I was 39 when she left us and I have never been more devastated. Tragically, I was supposed to be her kidney donor, and sensing her growing frailty I wanted to push the transplant along, but we never got the chance. Deep down, I suspect that my mother didn’t want to put me through the operation. Deep down, I suspect she felt her own mortality and was prepared to die.

Her passing occurred while I attending grad school at UCLA. I took a whole two weeks off to be with my family in Texas before I returned to California to finish my studies. Probably not the wisest choice, but it gave me a sense of normalcy, purpose and belonging. In hindsight, I should have taken a leave of absence. I was not prepared for the amount of psychic energy my grief would occupy, and still does. I graduated this past June. I could not believe she wasn’t there. My mother. Keeper of my milestones—GONE. She was my biggest cheerleader. My biggest defender. My super power.

I was definitely suicidal the first year. Not seriously. I never took pills or tried to slice my wrists, but I did fantasize about death, but only to cut the pain. I still can’t believe the profundity of it. The pain. How it drowns you and tries to pull you down. You can’t fight the currents of grief, and the harder you try to swim against it, the harder it works to pull you down.

At month 8, last year, I knew I was in trouble. You see, I was left with my stepfather, he is not the easiest man to get along with, in fact, I found a note written by my mother left behind one of her photos indicating how her marriage to him was a prison. He is ten years older than my mother and he should have died many times over, after serving the Special Forces in Vietnam, being a POW, having survived a helicopter crash that left him in a body cast for nine months, a heart attack. I can’t help but think it should have been him not her. I can’t help it, but it’s true.

He was in bed with my mother when she passed. He woke up to find her splayed out across the bed, with her arm stretched out in front of her, as if she were trying to wake him up— he did finally, by the time rigor mortis set in— I think it takes four hours for this to occur. I’ve been angry at him for not waking up. For not taking her to the hospital two days before, when she got in a car wreck after confusing the accelerator for the brake, AFTER trying to drive home from dialysis. Something you should never do. But someone had to wait for the workers to finish installing the hardwood floors my mom wanted so much. My mom was a Super Hero, but even Super Heroes become weak.

Meanwhile, I’m away at UCLA pursuing my dream study and my brother is too busy placating his wife, who never understood the devotion we had to my mother and often creating a ripple between him and us. This wreck was a sign that something was wrong— I can’t help but wonder if she had gone to the hospital, MAYBE she would be alive.

Currently, I find myself in a very apathetic state. I don’t think I am clinically depressed, believe me, after the anniversary of her death hit, I tried to get on meds, but the doctors didn’t let me. They said what I was experiencing was grief, and the only way to handle it was by going through it. But, I’m wondering if the state I’m in now will be permanent. I don’t want to deal with people. I don’t want to hang out with my friends. I only want to stay home and catch up on all the episodes of “Supernatural” while lying in bed.

I’m hoping this is only a phase. I am hoping I will snap out of it and somehow recapture my drive. Somehow recapture my zest for life. Graduation was in June, and looking back I realize I gave myself little time to process her death and what her loss would really feel like. As I sit in it, I realize the huge part of me, the ambitious part of me, is gone. I realize, just how much of my identity was wrapped up in my mother. I’m not married and don’t have kids, this could also be apart of it and it was only in the last five years of our relationship that I can say we became best friends. When I finally saw her as a human being, just like me, but she was still my Super Hero and now she’s gone. Gone.

I’m currently in a relationship with a married man. The kid just left to college and he claims that once he sorts out his finances he will get a divorce so we can be in our relationship properly. I’ve never done this before. Have an affair. But I know grief makes you act stupidly for a while, and, yes, I know this is wrong and my mother would disapprove, but I’m no Super Hero.

My therapist tells me, I am in a relationship with this man, because he has become my anchor, my rock. She’s right. There is no one else. My stepfather has PTSD and has always been emotionally detached. My brother is emotionally unreachable, but at least he’s married and has some support there, but I’m all alone. This is not an excuse. I try to break up with him every Monday, because I know I deserve better, and I feel guilty, but somehow, I can’t let go of him— yet. He spends five nights a week with me, holds me. Let’s me cry. Hears me. I’ve known him for ten years and he has always been a friend, but we crossed a line.

For now, I feel all I can do is take my life one step at a time. I hope one day soon, I will find my drive. Find energy. Find reason, motivation, and the joy to live my life. Feel the sun on my face. But as I lie in the comfort of my bed, as I watch TV and write this— I realize that I’m no Super Hero. That was my mom.

Comments for The Loss of a Super Hero

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Sep 09, 2014
The Loss of a Super Hero
by: Sob

Dear Marie,

I am so sorry for your loss. I know what it is like to lose a mother. Nothing can come close to the pain one feels when one loses the most important relationship in life. Nothing can prepare us for such a loss. Like you, I lost my mother too. She died on 11th of July 2012, one week after my 24th birthday. And I still can't believe she is gone. I couldn't function for more than a year. I felt like I am trapped in some sort of a nightmare from which I just can't get out. I so badly wanted it to be just a nightmare and one day I would wake up from it and find my mum with me. But that did not happen. She will never come back to me, no matter how much I want her to. Just like you, there were days when I did not even feel like getting out of bed and watched 'Supernatural' till I couldn't watch anymore. My life completely changed and nothing will ever be the same. The gap left behind can never be filled. Words fail me when I start describing the pain I go through each day.

But that's the thing about life. It goes on. No matter what happens. For people like us, it is important to be easy on ourselves. Grief is different for everyone since we are all wired differently. Some take weeks and some take months, but eventually we start to accept what has happened. It is not easy but it's the only way we can try and get back to our lives, however different it might have become. Take one day at a time. Share your feelings with someone who is ready to listen. Don't let your grief turn you into someone you are not. Your mother will forever live inside you. People can know her through you. I know it hurts but that's the only we can give yourselves some peace of mind. Hopefully you will start feeling better again.

Lots of love and hugs for you!

Sep 09, 2014
The Loss of a Super Hero
by: Doreen UK

Marie I was such an impatient person throughout my life, but learned to be patient through adversity.
Please don't be hard on yourself or try to push yourself forward when your body is telling you.
"I CANT' DO THIS." One of the difficult aspects of loss is that we lose our motivation. We struggle to get it back and wonder what is wrong with us. "Why can't we get back to normal". It is rather like being knocked down by a truck and we get up and try to carry on feeling so wounded. WE CAN'T. Grief assaults our body and it can also feel like a bad dose of the flu and we are trying so hard to get on that treadmill and push our body to do what it can't.
When I say I could not function for 6 months. I took to the couch and never got off for those six months. I nurtured myself with endless TV. I then one day started to feel stronger and able to take one job a day, then two. Scaled back when I found days I couldn't do anything.
Treat yourself very SPECIAL at this time. It is the best foundation to HEALING.
Getting your degree probably doesn't make much sense right now, but don't regret it. After losing our loved one's makes us feel that nothing we strived for is relevant. It is somehow an aspect of this grief.
It only took me 9yrs. to recover from my loss of my mom is because I didn't grieve. It took 9yrs. before I could look at her photo's and put her picture up on the wall. This to me is Healing and recovering from grief. Don't compare yourself with anyone. You are a unique person with your own set of values and emotional make up. No two grief's are the same, and the deeper the Bond we have with our Mom is different for each of us.
It took me years to feel comfortable with myself and be more accepting of my feelings. I am a strong person. But I also embrace my weaknesses. It is part of life.
Build yourself up. LOVE YOURSELF back into life no matter how long it takes. Remember you have a gift called FREEDOM. See this as an adventure in how you are going to plan your life.
Finding the right person as a life partner is as much as trying to be the right partner. An exciting adventure.
Be happy. This is your heritage and your birth right. To be happy and enjoy life. Adversity will come as it does to all of us. But walk through it and find your strength through this adversity. Life is not perfect. You will make many mistakes. Don't beat yourself up. FORGIVE YOURSELF. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. And start all over again with a new slate. I hope life treats you well and may your troubles be small ones. Best wishes. Doreen

Sep 08, 2014
The Loss of a Super Hero -Doreen
by: Marie

Doreen. Thank you for your kind words they are so insightful.

When you say it took you 9 years to move past grieving your mother it makes me wonder how long it will take me. It makes me wonder how we know when we are actually past the grief. My mother did not raise me to be weak, and even though I intellectually realize my mother's death is a traumatic event that will take me some time to get through, I am impatient. I am uncomfortable with this new self that is being created. I'm broken.

Since, my mother and I were so close and since I don't have a husband or kids I am having a very hard time finding purpose and drive. Feeling like the degree that I just obtained is irrelevant. I need to find work, or I will lose my apartment. I still have some savings to last me a couple of months, and I don't want to have to move in with my stepfather, but even in realizing all this I can't seem to care or motivate myself to do anything outside of basic living.

I am trying very hard to be patient with myself. Maybe lying in bed and watching TV is a part of the nurturing I have needed in a long time. My life has been a whirlwind since Mom passed. A real nightmare. My roommate was struck by a car while she was crossing the street two months after my mom passed, I was the one who found her and rode the ambulance with her to the hospital, (roomie is okay, but was laid up with a broken pelvis), she moved home to be cared for, then I had to find another place to live since I could not bear going back to Texas to be stuck at home with stepfather, then I went to Europe for a month to be with someone I thought was my best friend, and found no comfort there, then I returned and started Fall quarter at school, So now that I find myself knocked out in bed I find myself facing a decision -- will I, can I, pick myself up, mend my shattered wings and fly, OR will I remain broken and let my life crumble?

I feel I should be stronger. Better. Productive. Driven. I’m none of these things. I’m simply existing and it scares me. I guess that’s what it boils down to— this new me scares me, because she is so unlike the person I thought I was and I struggle with seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. But maybe this is what grief is—simply darkness.

I’m sorry about the loss of your husband. I can’t imagine losing two of the most important people anyone could have. You were lucky to have loved him so much, and I know the pain must be intense. But it is in the way you write that tells me you are a woman of love and light. Thank you for sharing your light with me. Your love for your husband, makes me wonder if I will ever be as lucky to find a man who loves me deeply and completely, because so many of us never do.

All I know is, that at this moment I feel like I’m making a whole mess of wrong decisions, and it bothers me that I don’t care.

Sep 08, 2014
The Loss of a Super Hero
by: Doreen UK

Marie SLOW DOWN! You are taking life in the fast lane. So much has gone wrong for you and you feel confused that you let your Mom down. YOU DIDN'T. Life happens and you were studying and couldn't interrupt this as you would have lost a lot by interrupting studies. Mother's have a way of knowing what is best and rear their children to live their own independent life. Expecting nothing in return. This is the definition for being a mom. Your mother was a Super Hero. She would not have expected anything from you.
None of us knows what to expect from grief and how long it will last. We learn from each other on this site. I learned to TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME. This has helped me in my own grief journey. I could not function for 6 months and I took this time out to nurture myself back into life. Grief is so painful. We want it to end quickly. But it is a process we have to go through DAILY. Building yourself up will help you, as will staying in therapy.
Leaning on this married man for support is not a fault, but often something many people do. Just so long as you don't use each other to the point it becomes a crutch and adds to your grief. Set boundaries and clarity about what you expect from him and what you are able to offer. Often it is just companionship that can become complicated if there is no clarity on the relationship. Realise also that you can complicate your life further by choosing a married man with baggage. Your mother will always be a part of you as she brought you up you will feel her presence with you a lot and this will hurt your grieving and you will want her back. I lost my mother 11yrs. ago. It took me 9yrs to recover from my grief. I lost my husband to cancer 2yrs. ago and my grief overlapped and I grieved some more for my mom. it is not uncommon for all losses to become condensed and grief overflows to a point it can become unbearable. Going through grief is the only way forward. TAKING ONE DAY AT A TIME. You will gradually feel less painful grief and the healing process started. days you will be up and days be down. But every day is different. Don't have high expectations. Grief has its job to do and doesn't last forever.

Sep 07, 2014
"Through"
by: Anonymous

My mother was my super hero too. I wish I could give you sound advice, but it's true. The only way the sadness is "through". Your mother sounds like an amazing woman and it will take a long time for you to move on-- and one things for sure....you will never be the same.

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