Have you ever enjoyed fresh coconut? I mean really fresh coconut– as in, you cracked the coconut yourself and drank the milk and scooped or scraped out the sweet flesh? I was thinking of nuts that are hard to crack recently, because I’ve been feeling like one.
My mother died recently, just after I returned home from vacation. At 92 it was not entirely unexpected–though I might describe it as “un-planned,” if that makes sense. She had not been gravely ill. Death just sort of naturally happened. She had fought several rounds of pneumonia and a nasty intestinal infection in the last many months, and her body was fatigued. Every breath had become a struggle. I wasn’t entirely surprised when I got the call from my sister, but I was certainly sorry I hadn’t had one last chance to see her before she died.
So I gathered myself up, gave thanks for her peaceful passing, and set about the “stuff” of death: cleaning out her room at the nursing home, meeting with the funeral director, notifying distant relations and friends, organizing the memorial service and interment, and placing obituaries. It was all a good way to keep my mind occupied.
Now that I’m home from the memorial service there’s nothing to focus my mind in quite the same way. Most of the “stuff” is done or other family members are attending to it. There’s the letdown of having worked very hard on something–gathering her community to celebrate and give thanks for her life–and having it go well–and there not being anything to replace it in quite the same way.
I remember trying to crack a coconut once. Gosh, but it was hard! Almost impossible, in fact. I think I’ve been that coconut for the last month–trying to be organized and on top of everything and meet everyone’s needs, and at the same time not “crack.” It’s not that I think showing emotion is “bad” (I’m fond of saying that I cry at Kodak commercials, but since there aren’t Kodak commercials anymore, I think I need to update my reference), it’s just that I had a hard time getting out of “priest” mode and into “daughter” mode.
Interestingly, it took coming back to work, but I think I’ve finally cracked. I’ve found myself saying “If you’re nice to me, I’ll cry,” more than a few times recently. I wish there were things to DO to take care of the sadness and loss I feel, but I know that it is only time that will help with that.
I don’t want to live life as an emotional coconut, no matter how sweet the milk and coconut inside may be. The shell is just too hard! So I sure am glad to be home and NOT feeling like I have to hold it all together.
Have you experienced times when you tried to hold it all together but were eventually able to let go? Maybe you didn’t even realize you were doing it until the “cracks” started to appear? That’s been the case for me, I think. I’m glad to be able to let go now and let the grieving and eventual healing begin.
Thank you to all who have sent cards and shared words of support and encouragement. I know many of you have walked the path I am walking now. I’m grateful for your love and wisdom.