I Don’t Know

My mother’s things are in disarray all around me. Her sunglasses are in the center console of my car. Her signature “Betty Boop” coat is draped over my back seat. Her purse is next to the couch in my family room.  

The clear baggie (fancy hospital luggage, I call it) holding her pictures and coloring books from her bedside is on the floor under my kitchen counter.  It’s next to Christmas gifts we haven’t yet put away. Her health took an emergency turn just before Christmas, really, and my time quickly segmented into caregiving, staging/transporting, waiting, watching, planning (pointlessly in many cases, but it’s what I do), work when I could, and then the rest of real life…

When she died, taking that clear bag of her things and rolling her blanket into my backpack, it was all very surreal. My muscle memory had begun to know every tower on the hospital campus. To just walk out.  To leave her, her body,  there alone. To know that this passageway had come to an end…I turned out of those woods and onto another path.  

Grief doesn’t act like a path, though. It’s more often compared to an ocean. An ocean has no guiding markers, and no end, really. 

You hear of grief coming in waves, it crashes over you. I’ve felt this before with loss. I’ve been submerged before. I’ve experienced the treading, not going forward but working to just stay above. You know. You’ve felt it too. 

I thought I would handle everything this year…differently. I mean, outwardly in tasks and outwardly in presenting of myself and also, none of this has hit the tender parts of my heart the way I anticipated, either. As I have so eloquently said before, “grief is weird.” Part of me scolds myself for not, “getting things done.” Putting all of this away (whatever that means). Part of me avoids moving the items of hers, feeling like I am (again in many ways) losing her. And which of the “her” I have known over the last several years. 

And what am I supposed to do with all of the anger? And guilt? And selfishness? And…those emotions are like the algae, living and moving within the ocean of grief. Some stick to my skin, some float by. Can I sanitize it? Slips through my fingers. Startles me when it rubs against me, feels like it seeps under my fingers and into my pores. 

I haven’t wanted to “talk about it.” I mostly avoid talking about it. But, you know, I write.

While at the hospital this year, I took pictures. My phone (with a little of my help) made this video. Although I know the weight I felt while I took these, and  I relive the transition and revelations with each picture, I wonder what translates. Art is…I don’t know…I think a little does. Hm. 

Maybe it’s not a great idea, posting another pain filled post. Sharing the lessons, the learning, the positive spin on life is, well, more my brand. 

Here’s the thing, this is our living history and I share while I’m learning.

On this one, I don’t know the lesson yet, I just know the story. 


  1. Btlmail@aol.com March 16, 2019 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Oh, MardraMardraMardra. I love/hate you soooo much. Is that a wrong thing? I flew many times form DC to Omaha to tend to an ailing, decling mom and your photo album captures too well those indelible, flashing, fleeting moments of wtf/wow. Of I am doing so much yet so little. Of annoyance and insignificance of effort, of efficacy. Even after taking away her keys and choices, essentially kidnapping her away from the inarticulable comfort of home/friends/familiarity for my sense of safety, control, and yes, convenience, I am burdened with the sure and haunting knowledge that I was both right and wrong.

    Surely, this is the payback for having been obnoxious children.

    And so it goes.

    X&O, BTL

    • Mardra March 16, 2019 at 11:18 pm - Reply

      Yes Dear, to this. Thank you for relating. So much both right and wrong. Too much, today.

  2. Kristi Campbell March 18, 2019 at 12:01 am - Reply

    I’m so so very sorry for your loss. There’s so much packed into losing a parent, I know, although I’m not yet there, but I see it, you know? There are books to write once my mom is gone, and my dad? Oh my GAWD. We’ve encouraged him to move in with us, but I don’t know that he will, or that it’s best. We should talk more. I know we have some similar stories about our moms, and we know the complexity of motherhood from the other side, but gah.
    Also, f#@k brands. Write what’s here, now. Grief is huge, and unexpected things happen with it, during it, around it. Just be you. I used to focus way too much on my brand, and because of that, have gotten away from me. Don’t do that please, because all of your stories and experiences matter so much. And again, I’m so very sorry for your loss. xoxoxo

    • Mardra March 18, 2019 at 7:16 am - Reply

      Thanks and yeahhhh. And more. <3

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