I can’t say enough about how strong my mom has been since my dad’s passing. She has been the epitome of grace and strength throughout the past seven weeks. She is facing all the challenges that come with losing a spouse head on, and though it is incredibly difficult for her, she continues to impress me by her ability to move forward even in the midst of such sadness and loss. I think she has balanced the grief with moving forward perfectly, and whenever I find myself struggling with how to handle all these emotions, I look to her for an example.
Mom has said that the hardest part of my dad’s death has been coming home from work. My dad was retired, and so she came home every night to him. He usually had dinner cooked, laundry going, and golf on TV. Their house was busy and active, just as they both wanted it to be. Without my dad, the biggest adjustment my mom has had to make is coming home to a quiet house at night.
She didn’t have to tell me how hard that was. It was the part of this whole grieving process that upset me the most. I miss my dad so much and I carry the weight of his passing with me all the time, but the sadness is starting to diminish a bit. I can think about him now and not become sad. I can talk about it and it actually makes me feel better instead of worse. And, finally, FINALLY, that feeling of panic and breathlessness when I think about him is gone. I still experience those things, but they aren’t part of my day on a routine basis anymore.
The one thing, though, that can bring me to tears faster than anything else right now is thinking about my mom. There’s no one else I want to be around because she reminds me of him, but she breaks my heart. Not because of anything she does, but because I know that when we leave, we leave her alone. My sister and I can do a lot for my mom, but we can’t be lonely for her. And I don’t think there’s anything worse than thinking of your mom being alone.
A few weeks ago, my mom was spending the weekend with us and she mentioned that she hadn’t slept well, so she Googled cats for 2 hours. We knew this was a joke because the day after my dad died, my mom told everyone, “Please don’t buy me a pet.” But after she left that weekend, Chris saw that my mom hadn’t been kidding. There were tons of cat adoption websites in our browser on the laptop! We didn’t say anything to my mom about it, but a week later when she asked us to go with her to pick out two kittens, we weren’t surprised at all.
“I just need something to come home to,” she said. And though that thought just about broke my heart, I knew she was right. Having two awesome dogs, I know the joy of pets and what they can bring to your life. I knew that was what my mom needed and I was proud of her for figuring that out for herself.
So, last weekend, me, Chris, and the kids went with my mom to PetSmart where they were having kitten adoptions. My mom was so excited. She knew just what she wanted. Two sibling kittens who looked similar to a Siamese. And she found just that!
She wanted to name them after famous sisters, so she named them after the Gabor sisters. Zsa Zsa and Magda. And they are awesome! They are playful, but not crazy, and they love hanging out with my mom. She said they just follow her around to every room she goes in at the house. Just what she needed!
Kittens don’t replace my dad. Nothing ever will for any of us, especially for my mom. But they do help plug the hole his passing left in my mom’s daily routine. I’m so happy for her. Those little kittens just reaffirm what I’ve always known – pets are good for your soul.