Sometimes Things Are Just Things

It took my Grandfather years to downsize because he couldn’t part with his furniture. He’d come to so cherish his dining room suite because it had belonged to his parents and was gifted to him and my grandmother once they’d married and begun their own family.

I think he’d infused, confused, misplaced, the deep love he felt for his mother, who died when he was still a young man, into the furniture. The table and chairs didn’t replace his mother though. He couldn’t claim they loved him back but he couldn’t part with them because of the power he gave them.

I’ve been just as guilty, hanging on to pieces of my mother as though they’ll bring her back. The most important parts of our relationship are stored in my head, my heart, not in her opal ring or the wall hanging she made in a circular weaving class. These things don’t love me back but they make me feel closer to her in a way she didn’t intend. I gave these things their power over me. I gave them that intense hold that’s so often born of grief and good intentions.

Things can turn evil if we give them too much power, too much of ourselves, if we let them hold us back.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer’s solo work lately and her song, The Thing About Things, on her new album, There Will Be No Intermission, has had me thinking of the power we give things and how we often let what we own own us.

I’m down to one last thing I thought I was saving for the daughter I don’t have. It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to admit that my grad dress will never be pranced around in during dress-up or altered to fit my little girl as she goes off to a formal dance. It’s hard to admit that I’m not going to have a daughter the way I always thought I would. It’s just a dress. I’ve given it the power to bring me to tears about something that doesn’t exsist.

I’ll be working on letting things go, taking back the power I gave each piece. Taking back the power these things were never meant to have. Within my heart and head I have the real power to keep my precious memories safe.

Do you find you hang onto things? Have you ever given meaning or power to an item only to realize it’s how deep it’s got it’s claws in you? How do you go about letting go of things? I’d love to hear any comments you have.


Death Defying Dreams

I dream of my Mom and I feel unsettled. 

I dream of my Mom and I feel terrified.

I dream of my Mom and I don’t want it to end. 

I dream of my Mom and I feel uplifted.

I began to dream of my mother frequently 6 months after she died. At first I felt deeply unsettled, aware her presence was fleeting and I couldn’t control anything and she didn’t seem to be aware of me and my desperate grief. It was as though she was playing a role and not an interactive one.

One day I took a nap in the afternoon. To my surprise and excitement  I came slowly awake to the sound of my Mom talking on the phone in the other room.

I leapt from my bed, flung my door open and there she was talking on the phone no more than 8 feet away.

She seemed surprised when I threw my arms round her neck and sobbed into her hair, ” How is this possible? How are you here?”

She hugged me back but didn’t hang up the phone. marveling she was there at all I felt elated but couldn’t understand why she seemed preoccupied and didn’t recognize this for the miracle it was.

“How is this possible?” I continued to wonder. “This has to be real. I woke up so I can’t possibly still be dreaming…right? …right?!”

I feel as though the construct of reality is unraveling without my control. Tethered no longer in dreamland, I’m sucked back to reality.

My reality doesn’t include time with my Mom anymore. In my reality my Mom is not on the phone. In my reality I can’t hug my Mom. In my reality my Mom is dead and it sucks.

I mention this instance not because I am fond of melancholy and tearjerking. I mention it because the dreams, and that one in particular, were jarring and frightening and I had no idea it might happen or how difficult I’d find it.

I felt like I had to say goodbye to her all over again every time I woke up. What was worse than saying goodbye repeatedly was having no control over when she’d show up in my dreams and if she’d even notice me. I still find it a little upsetting when it happens.

I wish I’d known how deeply grief would affect every aspect of my life, even my dreams. I don’t know that knowledge beforehand would have changed things as the grief experience is different for everyone. I do know knowledge is power and the dreams made me feel powerless as did heavy grieving. 

That is why I share this story, that it might provide knowledge, insight, or even just a sense it’s OK to be completely frustrated and freaked out trying to figure out grief and how to cope.