Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Day of Heartache

I apologize in advance for this rather depressing post - but it has been a rather depressing day and I am not sure that I can get through it without writing.  I have come to learn that writing to me is as necessary as air to breathe.

I find myself floundering today.  I'm not sure if it is because my eldest is moving into her own house this weekend -- a house!  Not an apartment, nor a town home.   But rather she and her husband and child - my granddaughter - are becoming full time mortgage owners of a beautiful house.  And I find myself rather jealous of their perfect floor plan - and rather incredulous that I am this old.  No longer will Christmas mornings be celebrated here -- they will be celebrated there.  And that is natural - and upsetting all at the same time.

And I find myself remembering that this time last year Mom was placed on hospice.  And we had no idea what that meant or what form that would take.  But by March 26th she would be gone.  And there was a part of me that was rather relieved.  I would no longer be the primary care giver and I could relax and focus on my own family for a while.  And instantly the guilt set in.  I should never have been relieved at my mother's death.

And here I am nearly 11 months to the day and I have finally allowed myself to grieve that I no longer have a mother to care for me.  I am the sole caregiver.  I am the mother - and the grandmother - of the family.  And don't think I like that pressure-filled role.

And I find myself at odds with school.  I have had three students quit my Brit Lit class in the past week.  I only had 16 students to start.  I think that must be some kind of record - and not a record that brings pride. I love Brit Lit and give my heart and soul to this class and just isn't enough.  I don't reach them all. And I desperately want to.

And I find that I can't find a book to read!  Me -- the lover of all things literary with a nook filled to the brim with unread books of every genre.  But I haven't read a book in nearly a year and that is rather distressing to me.  That is what inspired this blog in the first place.

And I wonder ..... have I passed my prime?  Is it all downhill from here? I sure hope not...but I fear so.


  1. It's tough when so much comes down on you all at one time. My dad passed away almost 14 months ago and I still have days when I am very weepy because of it. I think it's natural to feel some relief when they pass away, but the relief is for them, not yourself - you're glad they no longer have to suffer.

    You will start some new Christmas traditions that will be wonderful in their own way.

    Things have got to get better! I'm sending hugs your way.

  2. It hurts when your students, who we give so much to, let you down. I have felt that so many times in 20 years. Focus on those other 13 in your course. They WANT to be there. Give them the BEST experience possible. We can't reach them all....but we can reach some of them. Focus on the ones you can reach.

  3. When my mother passed away, it was not a surprise, since she'd been declining for awhile (and in hospice). It still hit me hard, though.

    And I feel frightened at times in my role as the caregiver, with nobody to care for me.

    Sandwiched between the true matriarch and my own grown kids, there was a feeling of place. My place in the scheme of things.

    It's lonely when our place changes. It's frightening.

    But it's been almost four years, now, since my mom passed, and most days I'm feeling okay about getting older. Most days.

    I know it gets better, though, and it will for you, too.

    Writing is a great outlet for these feelings, isn't it?

  4. You aren't past your prime … you are just in a different and confusing passage of life and that always takes some getting used to. Hang in there. Things will look brighter soon.

  5. I hear your heart Molly and appreciate your honesty. Life is hard, but full of joy as well. Hugs to you!

  6. You haven't past your prime and I'm sure it's not all downhill from here. Life is full of peaks and valleys... today is obviously a valley. It will get better! Sending a hug to you today.

  7. Your last paragraph made me come straight to your blog and hit comment. I wish I were near you and could put my arms around you and pat your back. I would tell you that you have NOT passed your prime. You haven't even gotten to it yet!!!

    You have so many interests and are so good at many things, especially writing, that you still have a lot to give. You have an important legacy to pass on to your children and that precious grandchild. Grieve for your losses (including lost students) as that's a part of life. Then look for something to focus on, something you can get excited about. It'll come to you. Last year you were so excited about Paris. I'd love to see that excitement in you again. It's still there within you. I'll keep you in my prayers Molly.

  8. You have NOT passed your prime, but you have hit an awkward, muddled stage (think adolescence) of your adult being. You do so much so well--and expect so much of yourself--that what used to bring joy can become a burden (reading, for example). Relax. BREATHE. You're dedicated--if you weren't, those lost students wouldn't matter--attend to the ones who stayed (it's the larger number, anyhow). Lose yourself in collages & writing for a while (needing to write is an excellent sign). Know that you are an excellent teacher. The reading will return. The malaise will depart. A travel opportunity will open up. Hang on. I'll be hoping for you!

  9. If you have time for one more book that might make things better, here's what my Mom is reading right now: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis (a Jungian psychologist). I can totally relate to nearly everything you say in this post, and I can see how it would all add up and begin to weigh on you. Luckily, you are a writer, and an artist--I know just sitting down with your journal will help. I know sometimes our thoughts just do weigh us down, so I will send vibrations of loving-kindness your way *smiles*

  10. I think we all have times when we feel like our youth was stolen from us, and there is no going back. These feelings really are tough to deal with. We just have to learn to appreciate the good things about each stage of life as we live it, and try not to think about what was lost.

  11. Your day sounds very similar to days I have. They are depressing and discouraging and honestly, the right thing would be to go to bed and sleep it through.
    The good thing: They end.

    I sometimes feel incredibly old and have the feeling it's downhill from here. It is not. But perhaps these are little wake up calls to do what we really love to do and not waste our time. That those students did leave your class is not your fault - They made this decision, and I wonder whether it has anything to do with you at all. Probably not.

    Try to see Christmas morning this way: now YOU are the one who gets spoiled because you don't have to clean your house, cook, decorate etc. Isn't that a relief?

    Talking of relief - it's quite understandable that you felt relief when your mom passed away. You don't have to feel guilty for that. It does not mean that you don't grief her, don't love her etc. I think it is just normal and human, because caring for her had a huge impact on your life. I think you can remember her without guilt and grief the way that is YOUR way.

  12. Ah, Molly, I agree with Margot. If I could crawl through the computer, I would. You and I, we'd talk about losing our mothers and the sorrow and, yes, relief it was. We'd talk about our kids growing older and the torch passing in many areas. We'd talk about what comes next in our lives. We'd hug and take a walk and have some coffee and maybe a brownie. I'd admire your pictures of your precious little granddaughter and talk about when or if I might have that pleasure in my own life. I'd tell you about my sister's fight with cancer and how I've been dealing with lots of anxiety in that regard. You'd tell me about your classes and show me pictures of Paris. I'd tell you how I'd love to visit Scotland and Ireland one day. We'd talk about ups and downs and good days and really, really black days. We'd hug again and cry a little. That's what I'd do if I could crawl through the computer.

    Please know that you can send me an email anytime, anytime, and I'll be glad to talk. Things will get better. There will be some ups after these downs. The silver linings will come back. You're in my thoughts and prayers. And, you're not alone. :-)

  13. I don't think you've passed your prime and please don't be so hard on yourself...big HUGS!

  14. Oh Molly, you will read again one day. Don't worry about that. You will see or hear about a book, or you will pick one up out of curiousity, and presto! back in you fall. Something in your mind must need you to not read yet, but to take this time to be in your life and doing things. Even though our blogs are ostensibly about books, they almost always end up having our lives creep in. I'm just glad that you are still able to blog, and I hope that writing does bring you some measure of comfort and peace.

    Such huge space you have now in your life! and you have a right to be sad at the changes,though I do like the idea of you going there to have Christmas next time - it will be different, and fun, I think :-)

    take care, and hugs from me too.

  15. I'll be praying for you Molly. Just remember that death of a loved one is a very stressful event and good things like the birth of a grand baby is too. You have had so much stress and so much change and that can leave you feeling really out of sorts. I don't think you are past your prime in fact I think the best is yet to come.

  16. If I were a poster right now I would be a kitten hanging by one paw from the end of a string and I would say "Hang in there". I worry about being past my prime as well. My challenge is kind of oppopsite of yours...wondering if I should have had kids...someone who will know who I am when I am old.

  17. I totally know this place, Molly! It comes and goes for me, too. I think that's why I loved that Style video I posted a couple of weeks ago. It is never too late to be in our prime:)

  18. I'm sorry I am so late to this post, Molly - I got about 300 posts behind in my reader and am just catching up.

    I can really relate to some of the feelings you have - I'm 51 and I do think that this is a time when we tend to reflect and wonder what the second part of our lives will look like. You are definitely NOT past our prime :) But I hear the sadness in your "voice" with this post and I am sure that you are still grieving. Grief has a long shelf life.

    I hope you are taking care of yourself, making time for things in your life that you treasure. Don't worry about the reading - sometimes we need to fill our time with other things for awhile.


  19. As a mother whose daughter and boyfriend had a new house built in 2010 (on land we gave them), I can honestly say that it is terrific to spend holidays or any days at her house. I enjoy not having to be the main hostess. And her floor plan is also a great one. New houses are more amenable to living I think. Mine is an old farmhouse, and though cozy and full of charm, it is fun to be in her open plan house with an island. This past Thanksgiving we celebrated at her house with our son, and it was the very best T. I've ever had.

    And my own dear mother died 39 years ago, and I still cry for her. I have missed her on the ordinary days, and on the special ones like when I was married and when we adopted our kids.

    This sad time will pass, and your life will flow in a different way, but just as nicely as before. I promise.

  20. Dear Molly,

    I'm sending you kind thoughts.

    After my father died, it took me three years to fully process his passing. The anniversary of his death was particularly difficult and would either send me into tears or into bed for the day. He died 15 years ago and I still feel sadness at his absence.

    Now, my mother lives with me. At the age of 85 she is in wonderful health, thank God, but of course she is also frail. And since I am single and have no children, I wonder how I will handle the 'alone-ness' when she leaves this mortal-coil.

    I can also sympathize with your Brit Lit plight. I taught overseas for four years and Brit Lit was my favorite class. However, most of my students were English as a Second Language students. We solved this problem by reading Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities aloud, in class, page by page. We did this with a number of our books that year. It was time consuming, but it worked and the children loved it.

    I wonder if the students that quit your class were simply feeling overwhelmed by the pace of the reading schedule and quit rather than admit they couldn't keep up? Is it possible to slow down and savor the books? To read fewer books, but have a deeper understanding and more time to discuss. I suggest this because I also remember how I felt as a high school student when I couldn't keep up with the class in my Great Books class, and yes, I eventually quit as well....and missed out on a lot of wonderful literature that I didn't read until I was an adult and could read it at my own pace.

    And finally as to book suggestions. I'll suggest a gentle book that I just finished reading, a children's book: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Which is one of those books that will always stay with me, it's so beautiful. And I'll suggest my own: Mrs. Tuesday's Departure. And I'd be happy to send you a copy of the paperback if you email me your snail mail address.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Suzanne Anderson

  21. SOrry I didn't visit your blog until today. It's so hard losing a parent (I know, as I've lost both of mine over the past few years) so I know exactly how you feel. Hope your spirits are up soon!!


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