How I embraced most every moment of every day as my mom's protector, advocate, friend, daughter, caregiver, and biggest fan on earth...

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"Joyful Girl"
lyrics and music by: ani defranco

"i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
i do it just because i want to
because I want to

everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way?
no, well o.k. then
don't cry

and i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know that there's no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
and when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know

i do it for the joy it brings..."

To me, life is 100% a state of I look at things, how I act, react, how I think. It was easy being joyful with my mom here at my side - even through all of our scary medical struggles and challenges throughout the years - and there were lots of them - but in-between those we embraced and enjoyed life fully, joyfully. Now if i can just somehow, some way, make myself believe that I can do this without her physically here with me.


A twinkling Christmas tree in our front window since August 2013 for us to enjoy the countless lights and precious ornaments in the evenings, our Bates Motel Sign in our dining room window since September 2013, and a black wreath on our front door since the death of my mom. Every moment of every day with my mom was one big, grand, awesome adventure and wondrous moment - one big beautiful laughter-and-love-filled sunny day. Although I very rarely wrote about it on here or shared it on here all these years - it's all been captured in my thousands of photos, jam-packed journals, my big heart, and my little brain. What an awesome world, an awesome life it was. Everywhere my mom and I went - we were always so surprised how people constantly told us they had never seen or met such an amazing and close and authentic and genuinely-joyful duo like us. They said we inspired them. I always simply replied it was so very easy to be with my mom - and to us, it was no big deal - that's just how we always were. Why would it change just because my mom's physical abilities changed. From RTA Paratransit bus drivers, cashiers at corner stores, ticket-takers at the Zoo, museums, and movie theaters, strangers on the streets, and even my mom's team of doctors - all said they had never met anyone like us; my mom's surgeon even said he would like his daughter to be like me (but that would never be possible since he said he doesn't want to live past 80). I CANNOT, today, put into words that make sense how wonderful my life was and how dark and deep and tumultuous the waves of grief are making it so hard to keep my head above water - and to wonder if there ever will be a lighthouse, or a boat, or land in sight where I might live joyfully again. And, if so, if I could possibly have the gumption and the strength and the energy and the faith and the will to tread water that long.
(((((((Monday)))))) I know you are in deep grief and I know very well what that feels like. After my youngest son died I felt like I was plunging into an abyss and had no idea if it had a bottom, if I would ever get out, or if I would survive. It did have a bottom, I did get out, and I did survive. I cannot tell you when the light will appear, when you will see land, but I can tell you that you will. Right now you are experiencing your grief feelings and that is what you need to do to get through this. It is very painful. Grieving follows a certain pattern - the three month mark., 6 months and nine months, and then one year etc. are particularly hard and at times you may feel like you are going crazy. Birthdays -both yours and hers and your uncles, anniversaries, holidays -any special days are hard. They trigger your grief as can certain places e.g. restaurants you used to go to and so one. I have read that the first few years you live your life around your grief and after that you live your grief around your life - you can postpone it and choose times more easily. Do think of special things to do during holidays etc. to commemorate your loved ones who have passed. Some light candles, some release balloons, some donate to a loved one's favourite charity in their name, some develop a special garden or plant a tree. Some just stay home with their memories. Whatever works for you. You are so early in this process that you may not be ready for such things. You may well be having trouble even fully believing that your mum is gone. That's OK - and normal.
It sounds like you have a most wonderful relationship with your mum and that is something for which to be very thankful. I don't mean you should grieve or feel bad, but that you are very fortunate to have had this relationship. Not all of us do.
Please continue to express your thoughts and feelings -it does help - little by little, tear by tear, Grief often has very physical manifestations. Look after your health the best you can. Try to eat properly, exercise a little when and if you can, stay hydrated, and breathe deep when the feelings overwhelm, Cry when the tears come - they are healing.
And have hope that it will get better. It will. Love and ((((((((((hugs))))))))))) Joan

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