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I'm having a fairly shitty day what with missing my mom and all, but as George just reminded me, it could be a lot worse.

GEORGE: *pausing in typing at the G5* "Listen! Do you hear that sound?"
ME: *pausing in typing at the iMac* "...?..."
G: "That dim and distant sound... like the roaring of the ocean... or hundreds of people screaming..."
M: "..."
G: "..."
M: "Oh my fucking God... it's the poor bastards at the malls, isn't it?"

Yep, all those people who waited until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping. All those people running around like panicked chickens in the final shopping hour before THE BIG DAY. All those people whose gift choices, now that the shelves are picked clean, boil down to a lime green and pink popcorn maker, a $3 set of oven mitts, or a $250 deluxe crock pot.

I might be almost sick with grief, but at least I'm not at the mall on Christmas Eve.

And that actually makes me feel a little bit better. Ah, sweet Schadenfreude...
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Yesterday I went with Terri to Tavern in the Park, a five-star restaurant in Assiniboine Park that is closing at the end of September. The meal was absolutely perfect -- Terri had medallions of beef and I had a bistro steak sandwich -- with wonderful service and a fried banana spring roll dessert that was absolutely to die for. I came back home feeling very full and in much better shape to work on the first MM cover, which I finished and uploaded to FTP yesterday evening.

Today has gotten off to a slow start. I'm about to start work on the second MM cover, and at 4:30 pm I'll be meeting with a gay couple to discuss a handfasting ceremony for them on May 9th 2009. Then it's back home to wrap up the cover, and then (thankfully) to bed.

A note about the persistance of memory: This morning I realized that I couldn't find my blemish concealer makeup anywhere and I have a pimple on my chin that needs covering for this afternoon's meeting. So for the first time since her death I cracked open my mother's purse, and there in a plastic box were several makeup items, including a little pot of concealer cream in my shade. The smell of the cosmetics reminded me instantly of her in a very visceral way. Sad, yet good at the same time.

Okay, I've got a fresh cup of coffee. Time to get to work.
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I just spent 20 minutes sobbing my heart out. Someone posted a mother-related poem on Yahoo!Answers, and reading it totally undid me.

Poem behind the cut )


I can count on one hand the number of times I've cried since my mother's death, and this was easily the most painful episode. I just wanted so damned badly to make her smile one more time -- to buy her flowers, to take her out to lunch, to show her some cute cat video or picture. And I'll never be able to do that again, and the pain is like being carried back and forth by ocean surf and dashed against rocks again... and again... and again.

Fortunately George was here so I wasn't alone as I wept. He's lost his mother and a brother, so he understands this kind of pain. I just hope that in his moments of suffering I'm able to comfort him as much as he's able to comfort me.

I'll try to post something light and entertaining later. Right now I've got a fresh cup of coffee and a few MM pages that I want to finish tonight, so it's time to pound back a couple of aspirin and get down to it.
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I had to do a bunch of running around today -- library books, the hospital, groceries -- so I've been on the bus quite a bit. And as the bus was leaving downtown to take me out to Health Sciences Centre, I saw an elderly woman get on with a yellow paper bag from The Bay.

My mother used to love shopping at The Bay. The thought always made her smile.

And in that instant, the grief that I've largely been holding off for almost a year broke through in a wave of silent devastation. It was all I could do not to break down crying in my seat. By the time I reached the hospital it had passed, but... yeah, not a very pleasant ten or so minutes. It makes me wonder what else is waiting just below the surface of things.

On a more exciting note, on the way back from the Health Sciences Centre, I saw firemen!


Yes, climbing around on an awning over Graham Avenue... what they were doing up there I have not a clue. There was a small area on the white plastic fronting the awning that was singed, but I wasn't about to bother them by asking for the details. There were, however, two fire trucks and an emergency vehicle in the area, so it might have been something pretty big. (And it was a bit anxiety-inspiring to see them up there, because the "awning" is actually more of a metal grate that doesn't look very structurally stable at all. They were stepping very carefully and you could see the grid flexing under their weight. Yikes.)

Other than that, not a whole lot that you can't catch up with later in my daily work log.
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I'm feeling chilly, so I'm bundled up in my warm up-to-the-ankle house slippers and the Winnipeg Humane Society sweater that I inherited from my mom, with a cup of hot coffee close at hand.

Today I'm finally biting the bullet and phoning her credit card companies to report her death. I know it's pathetic, but I simply haven't been able to bring myself to do it before. For some reason the prospect is a lot less painful now than it was even a month or so ago.

I talked things over with my psychiatrist yesterday and came to the decision that I really don't need to go back to the anxiety-provoking environment of Ipsos-Reid. As he pointed out, I already have a career that I get a lot of satisfaction out of and that brings joy to people; it's not like I need the I-R job in order to pay the bills. Still, it feels an awful lot like admitting that I fail at the game of Real Life. And there's the letter of resignation to write, which will not be a lot of fun.

On my way to the hospital yesterday afternoon I stopped at the Millennium Library to drop off some books and ended up buying a couple of used books from a table in front of their gift shop. One is a book on endometriosis that I picked up for Terri, and the other is a book about ancient inventions that so far is pretty cool. From the library's New and Noted stacks I also picked up a book about James Tiptree Jr., a book about palliative care, and a book about the controversy over homosexuality. Those should keep me in reading material for a while.

MM calls. Again.
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I've been having a quietly painful "I want my mommy!" day. I'm largely at peace with her death, which happened exactly the way she wanted it to, but every so often I just... miss her. And it sucks.

Slept over 12 hours last night. Something's still eating at me, and I have no idea what. I spent most of today helping George out with his latest project by erasing the pencil remnants from inked pages, then scanning and compositing them, then cleaning them up. In between, I've been laying flats on HB. I don't think I'm going to hit my next deadline; then again, the penciller is behind schedule, which has been impacting things at my end. Crap, crap, and crap.

I'm so tired, even in spite of getting up at about 11 am, that I'm considering going to bed soon.

Fortunately I'm seeing my GP on Friday. I'll ask him about this prolonged weariness then, as well as about getting the pneumonia shot.

Heigh ho, heigh ho.
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George just called me into the living room to have a look at the setting sun. It was smouldering right on the horizon, literally the color of a coal in a dying fire. Such a vivid orange-red...

Okay, back to work. It's another hard day; memories of my mother keep dragging at my mind. They told me the first Christmas would be the hardest. I didn't realize how hard.
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I've been feeling down all day, because Christmas is coming and so many thing will be different.

No Christmas card from my mother.

No homemade baking from her, either.

No helping her shop for a nice gift for George.

No dinner at her place on Christmas Eve (or dinner with her anywhere, for that matter). Her table settings were works of art. She'd always set the table the day before, and fuss endlessly over the quality of the meal. At the time I found it annoying; now I'd give anything to have one more evening with her.

No hugs, no kisses, nothing.

She's gone. It's all gone. And that sucks.
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So there I am, working on the computer and listening to the studio TV. There's a special on National Geographic Channel about emotions in animals called "Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry", and I happened to look over just as they're showing footage of Harry Harlow's experiments with infant macaque monkeys. You know, the ones where an infant monkey was given the choice between a cold, hard wire mother that gave milk and a soft, cuddly cloth mother that had no milk to offer.

Seeing a baby monkey clinging to the closest thing it had to a loving mother -- a creation of wood and sponge rubber and terry cloth -- I started to sob, because it reminded me that I'll never, ever see my own mother or get a hug from her again.

That, and what those baby monkeys were put through is just awful. They grew up to be hideously maladjusted adults.
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Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians on my friendslist. :-)

In about an hour, George and I will be off to the city of Selkirk to spend the late afternoon/early evening with his family. We're taking coleslaw this time; hopefully we bought enough.

About a year ago, we took my mother out to Tavern in the Park at the Assiniboine Park Pavilion, which was pretty much her favorite restaurant of all time. The food is terrific, the place is bright and breezy and full of windows, and the ceiling is made of glass, flooding the place with light. We'd debated whether or not to have Thanksgiving dinner at her place as we usually did, but decided that it would be too much work for her.

After a wonderful lunch, as we waited with her for the cab that would take her home, she looked at us and said: "When I'm gone, I want you to remember me exactly like this, because this is one of the happiest days of my life."

I'll always treasure that moment.
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A few minutes ago I had to get something from the top of the entertainment unit in our studio. One of the other things on top of the unit was an M. Pena "circle of cats" candleholder:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I gave it to my mother years ago, and she brought it out to be the table centerpiece whenever George and I went over there to have dinner. In it, I found the candle she had put in it last Christmas.

What a wave of memories... :-( and also the realization that there will NEVER be another Christmas dinner at my mom's place. No more lively discussions; no more delicious sour cream potato balls; no more... mother.

It's like a fist in the gut.
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I came back home from wrapping up my mother's bank accounts this afternoon and spent two hours sobbing in bed. It feels like an iron hook has been rammed through my heart and is trying to pull it (along with my other internal organs) out of my body.

Another part of her life is gone forever.

It doesn't help that my period has started and I'm cramping and headachy to begin with.

I don't think I'll be good for doing much of anything constructive tonight.
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Yesterday as I was clearing boxes out of the pantry to look for some documents, I found a plastic container of homemade spice crinkle cookies (with raisins) that had slipped down behind one of the boxes sometime around Christmas. How do I know this? Because on top of the container was written: "Laurie's Xmas cookies, December (date illegible) '06".

My mother had made them for me and George, not knowing that it would be her last Christmas ever.

I showed the container to George while making a joke about "cookies from beyond the GRAVE!"... which was fine until I went to bed last night. There, in the darkness, it hit me -- hard. I cried my eyes out for the first time since my mother actually died. And while I was fine most of today, I had another crying fit just now.

Grieving sucks. It hurts both emotionally and physically. My head and my chest both feel like someone's stabbed me with an icepick.

I miss you, Mom...
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Today is a very sad day. The spiritual anesthetic seems to have worn off, and I am now starting to grieve for my mother. The sorrow sits in my bones like leaded sand and premeates every square inch of my flesh. All I want to do is sit and stare mindlessly into space, but I have too much work to do on MM.

On Friday night I went to see the Transformers movie with [ profile] cockatiel_art and [ profile] sammelsadvocate. There were some major plot holes, but it was an enjoyable shoot-em-up movie. The most intriguing part of the experience, however, was the trailer for an as-yet-unnamed J.J. Abrams project that seems to be a trailer for a Godzilla movie, but which had no title attached; some internet research revealed that the working title of the project is "Cloverfield", and that there is NO other information out there. The trailer keeps showing up on the internet and being pulled on Paramount's orders, but believe me, tracking it down is worth it. It is VERY well done and very intriguing.

EDITED TO ADD: You can find the trailer here (I'm not sure for how long though); just scroll down. It's a poor copy but it gives some idea of what the original is like...
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Yesterday I made a mistake that almost ruined the handfasting. More on that later if I can bring myself to speak of it.

Today I found myself wandering aimlessly, able to settle on nothing. Apparently this can be part of the grieving process. I keep focussing on moments of my mother's life that I can recall, and then realizing that everything she knew -- her thoughts, her dreams, the internal record of her experiences -- is gone forever. It's a horrible and sobering thought.

I was also suicidal today for the first time in a long time, but the feelings weren't strong enough to wake George up over.

I'm sorry now that I wasted most of the day in bed. My sleep schedule has been severely bent out of shape as a result. If I have too much trouble getting to sleep tonight, I can always take a tranquillizer.

George hasn't woken up yet, and right now I feel like the most alone person on the face of the planet.
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About fifteen minutes ago, the dam broke open, at least a little.

I was talking to George when it hit me: My mother is gone. The world is now without her wit, her intelligence, her kindness, and her kick-ass-and–take-names attitude. Her ashes are sitting on my home altar. Her apartment lies empty. Never again will I pick up the phone and call her, or she pick up the phone and call me.

Suddenly, all I wanted was my mommy. And for the first time since she'd died, the sobbing started.

I've just stopped crying; the Novocaine seems to have descended upon my spirit once more, but I feel like I've been run over by a truck.

I just wanted to share this with the world -- grieving, it sucks.

EDITED TO ADD: To cheer myself up a bit, I just gave Emmie and Mina some catnip my mother had been keeping in her freezer. The apartment, it is full of trippin' cats -- running around, stopping dead, staring fixedly at objects, falling... slowly... over, and then repeating the whole chain of events again and again.

That and a tranquillizer are going a little way toward improving my general mood, but I think I'll still turn in early tonight.
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To everyone who responded to the post, "My mother is gone", thank you again -- and I have responded to each of your responses.

Not all of them are models of eloquence -- my brain feels like it's made of applesauce right now -- but they're heartfelt, every one.

I'm concerned about my own grieving process right now. Mostly what I feel is... nothing, aside from a certain amount of gratitude that she died the way she wanted to die, and a certain amount of stress over the nuts and bolts of wrapping up her life (tomorrow we go to see the funeral home regarding her cremation, and as for cleaning out her apartment... *shudders* I really don't want to deal with her landlord at this point, but I'll have to in the next week at the outside).

Here is her obituary, with details of when and where the service is. It will appear in the Saturday edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.

My mom's obituary )
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I have come to a startling, but perhaps not unexpected, realization in the last 24 hours:

The funeral industry is THE biggest scam, ever. Can you believe that some places want to charge us $1500-$2500 for a straight cremation with no memorial service or even an urn? Gah, times eleventy. Plus there are about a million details in the cremation/paperwork process and I have to check every single one with every funeral home. I'm tearing my hair out in great big clumps.

How we're going to pay for this without her death benefit is a mystery, and we can't get her death benefit without the paperwork from the funeral home, which we don't get until we pay them with money that presumably we would get from the death benefit. *head spinning* Meh. We'll figure it out.

It looks like we'll be holding my mother's memorial "coffee, tea, and cake" get-together in the auditorium at Riverview; that way the money goes to the facility that took such good care of her in her last days. It will probably be on June 11th, 12th, or 13th, depending on when the site is available. I have absolutely no idea how many people to order food for, since my mother's work touched so many people's lives, many of them students -- and she saw hundreds of those during her career. Insert more hair-tearing here.

A call to the Winnipeg Humane Society revealed that I can get a hand-painted 6"x6" ceramic tile (which I would create at Brushfire) for my mother for considerably less than the $1000 listed on their website. That might actually be within our reach.

Yesterday Terri and her husband Roger helped George and I to clean the essential/valuable/legal stuff out of my mother's apartment -- four heavy boxes plus her TV and VCR, her computer, some toolboxes, and other odds and ends. Terri and Roger will be forever on my heartfelt "thank you" list. I woke up this afternoon with every muscle in my body screaming in protest, but at least now if her apartment burns down we have everything that's really necessary.

Oh, and happy birthday, Terri! :-D

Tomorrow I'll be getting a bunch of calls back and will have to make a whole lot more. On Thursday I'll go and set up my mother's memorial account, after which I'll be able to submit her obituary to the newspapers.

It's a hard process. I just have to take it one day (and sometimes one hour) at a time. Thanks, and many thanks more, to everyone who's phoned and posted words of encouragement. This is one of the most difficult times of my life, and you're all making it that much easier.

Time to go have a shower and then step out to get a few groceries (as much as I'd REALLY like to just crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head). We're down to literally nothing in the household.
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She's gone. George was with her, and she passed away between one breath and the next.

I'm on my way to the hospital now.

It was as simple as that.
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