Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Physical Symptoms

I think Mom's death is hitting me harder physically than Dad's did (or maybe the combination of the two is taking its toll). I have the same inability to concentrate I did after Dad died, but now I have physical restlessness, too. You know how you feel when you have a fever and keep shifting your position because you just can't get comfortable, no matter how you arrange yourself? That's what this is like. I can't get settled in my own skin.

I'm sleeping okay, thank God. And I'm eating, but probably too much: I binged on an entire bag of Quaker Oats Kettle Corn rice snacks tonight (right after dinner, mind you: it was a sort of extended dessert). My weight definitely doesn't need this.

On the plus side, I did swim for forty minutes today. On the minus side, I'm having a lot of trouble getting work done; I squeaked through my classes yesterday, and pray to be a little better prepared tomorrow.

Yesterday I e-mailed my editor and agent to beg for an extension on the book deadline. I feel really awful doing this, given how late I delivered Shelter, but I haven't gotten any writing done since before I left for Philly, and any extra energy I have right now is going into grading.

Actually, that's not quite true: I have been practicing the fiddle, which feels concrete and immediate, but my brain isn't up to narrative at the moment. Narrative feels too abstract: or rather, narrative feels as if it requires me to construct the concrete out of the abstract, building a steam-engine locomotive out of air and water. The fiddle already exists, hanging right there on my wall. No alchemy required.

I'm sure none of that makes any sense. Grief carries well-known cognitive deficits. (My sister and I have taken great comfort in this. When I was back East, whenever one of us had a post-menopausal moment, we'd both chirp, "Cognitive deficits! Cognitive deficits!")

So, anyway, my editor and agent both responded with exasperated notes to the effect of, "Yes, of course you can have an extension! Why are you even worrying about the book? That shouldn't be your top priority right now!" My editor added a follow-up telling me to take care of myself.

They're good people.

I'm trying to take care of myself, but I don't think forty minutes of swimming cancel out an entire bag of Kettle Corn rice snacks. Although I had a sobbing fit while I was doing laps, so maybe that burned some extra calories.

I had the sobbing fit because it hit me that Mother's Day is right around the corner, and then it will be Mom's birthday, and Dad's birthday, and Christmas, and I won't have my parents for any of it.

Does anyone have any handy tricks for getting through the first Mother's Day after your mother has died?

Must go try to grade, so I'll be a little better prepared tomorrow. Does grading burn calories? Does grading burn more calories when you can't do the grading because you keep changing seats and positions every five minutes because you can't get comfortable?

Does whining burn calories?



  1. calorie-burning: do a few pushups during the day, and take a little break to lift weights just a little. that way you'll burn more of those calories when you're just sitting, which you're going to need to do a lot of.

    your body will tell you when it's time to move on.

    be gentle with yourself. be forgiving of your grief and your "cognitive deficits".

    i will continue to hold you and yours in prayer.

  2. Advice for getting through the first Mother's Day ... Don't eat out. Skip church, if yours always makes a big deal of Mother's Day. (Well, I suppose if you're preaching you can't.) Do something for someone else - write a note to an aunt or female mentor, donate something to a program for single moms, do an activity that makes you feel close to your mom (jewelry shopping?)

    My mom died in the fall (some years ago), so it wasn't so fresh at Mother's Day.

  3. Why not get your Mom a Mothers Day card, attach it to some balloons and have a little Mothers Day ceremony for her? After that is over, go and do something nice for yourself and move on with your day. I think if you try to ignore the day you will just end up feeling guilty somehow that you did not recognize the event. I know...the female mind!!

  4. Thanks, everybody! Good ideas!


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