Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Miles To Go

My heart is sore, my thoughts are tangled, my fingers are numb; I stumble toward writing but the writing, right now, does not release or calm or soothe.

December has come in fighting, raining blows upon my heart.

My step-grandmother (the only grandmother that I have had since my mother's mother, the grandmother of my heart, passed away when I was thirteen) lies in intensive care. Dying, my grandfather says. A fall, an injury to the head. Subdural hematoma. He sighs, his voice tired, pained, over thousands of miles of telephone wire. He doesn't know what he will do. My heart pounds and strains; I try to comfort him; we'll come out, we're coming, we'll come soon, we'll come see her, come see you. He doubts this, doubts that we will be able to see her, doubts that she will last that long. I whisper promises to call, to comfort, whatever he needs, whatever they need; we'll be there soon, I say.

The next morning, this morning, I call my mother, who is estranged from her father, my grandfather, to urge her to call, to comfort, to set aside hurt and grievance, to be there. Of course, she says, of course, but haven't I told you? Her own news came just yesterday. Skin cancer. Melanoma. Malignant tumour. Cut out, dug out, stitched over, but still. It lurks. I'm fine, she says. I must be vigilant, she says, on my guard, but I'm fine. I don't believe her. Cancer is too dark a word; I can't wrap it in light.

The distance between me and family - so many miles, so many hours, so many days - stretches, stretches. I have struggled - do struggle - with my distance from Tanner, from my sister, from that measured life, from the many joys and from the many pains (more and more he stumbles, they stumble, it is getting more difficult to veil the truth with cheer.) I have struggled - do struggle - with my distance from my father, who misses the embrace of family, who needs me, I know, even though he won't say so. I struggle, struggle, struggle with distance. I miss them, they need me, I need them, it hurts.

Love can make any distance shrink, disappear; it draws the horizon to us, it allows us to touch the sun, feel its warmth, even when it is so far. Pain, fear - these make the smallest distance in time or space seem infinite, insurmountable. So far to go, so difficult the journey, why am I not already there?

My heart is sore, my head confused. Expect quiet from this corner for a few days.


Blogger Momma Bean said...

I'm just a lurker, but with my dearest sisters scattered around the nation, I just wanted to let you know that I understand. And that I hope that everything is as well as it can be during this time.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Amy Jo said...

I wish I could write words that would provide some comfort. There is understanding here, as well.

1:38 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

oh bad mother, I am so very sorry.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I almost feel like I'm intruding on your pain to comment as I am a new reader, but your words speaks volumes. So sorry to hear your news. Life is never easy.

1:58 PM  
Blogger ms blue said...

I feel your pain. It can be so very hard to live far away. It feels like I am out of sorts caused by the distance between me and my family. The guilt and heartbreak are sometimes too overwhelming. I wish I could close the gap that separates my loved ones geographically and in my heart. ((big hugs))

2:10 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

Our thoughts and prayers here at the Earth household are with you and yours.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandmother lost her battle at 3:30am this morning. I am off to the States for the funeral. Everyone kept telling me not to come down and help until she was out of ICU...wish I had followed my gut and gone as soon as I felt up to it. We are several thousand miles and a border crossing away from everyone and the weight bears down on us every day as well, so I can feel your pain. It's hell. Hang in there.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Grim Reality Girl said...

I'm so sorry -- I hate how when it rains it pours... Keep writing! Venting and letting it out will help, it has gotten me through horrible times. I'm saying prayer for you and your family. May you close the distance and feel closer to those you love....

2:32 PM  
Blogger owlhaven said...

So sorry...praying now for your family....

Mary, mom to many

2:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'll be thinking about your family while you are quiet...

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry for all of your pain HBM. Thinking of you and hoping things level out soon.

2:57 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

this post hurts me and strikes a chord. with my own father, who i adored with every breath of my being, turning into something i don't want to believe- our relationship now strained and just a fragment of what it once was, pains me on a daily basis.
i love you.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

HBM, I understand how hard this can all be. Be silent as long as you need too, but remember we are here, thinking postive things for you.

I hope you make it to see her in time.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear of the pain, the fear, the confusion. This is a time to be good to yourself, to listen to your own heart, to do what you need to do in order to find comfort, peace. To feel whole.

Am thinking of you and your family.

3:15 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

I'm so sorry for all this trouble. Thinking of you.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Yes. Distance is both a blessing and a burden. It is never more burdensome than when someone we love lies close to death. Words do not work here. So instead, I send you my prayers.

3:21 PM  
Blogger moplans said...

Oh Catherine I am so sorry.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Catherine. But, you are teaching a valuable lesson to those reading this entry. Those of us that are *cough* thinking of moving away from family *cough* are now thinking twice.


3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, C. We're also far away (in space, and sometimes in heart) from many family members, so I know how hard it is. Love to you all.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

I'll be keeping you in my thoughts.
So sorry all this is raining down on you.

4:11 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

I hope you make it to your grandfather's side in time; the distances families live apart from one another now can make these times so incredibly hard. I learned this the hard way I'm afraid.

My thoughts are with you.

4:32 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

(((HUGS))) from Bumper and me. I understand how one aches and feels helpless when wanting to be with family. Family that is so far away. I'm thinking of you at this time and I'm sending good positive vibes your way.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

oh, C. - i am so sorry. for all that i put so much value in the power of words, i cannot think of a single one that might lend you the comfort i am wishing for you. you are a strong and wonderful woman, and while you will struggle, you will also survive. i know sometimes that's not even what you want to hear. like i said - words seem useless here.

i hope you find peace in the silence.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry. I'll be thinking of you and your family, and praying for your safe travel. Godspeed, HBM.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

It's end of term, and I can't leave Toronto until classes end and papers are handed off to the TA, etc, etc. Plus, we have all of our travel arrangements made to be back there for the week of December 25th - it's an issue of figuring out whether I can get out there earlier. So, things are bit stressful right now... Thanks for all of your warm thoughts.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I hope you can find some peace and get some rest.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

I will send you and your family good thoughts.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

I'm so sorry, what a difficult thing to face this time of year.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

My thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time. I know what you're going through, be strong and remember to let yourself off the hook a little.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of your news. I hope you can find comfort despite the miles.

If it's of any comfort my mother's had melanoma, and other skin cancers and has survived every one. When they're detected early it makes all the difference. Also? Get thee to a dermatologist when you get a chance - these things can run in the family (I know of a great one in the 'shwa, email me if you're interested).

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your pain, both yours and your family's. Please know that I am thinking of you and wishing you peace.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Sending so much love your way my friend. I understand this all to well with my family far away and having experienced a very similar situation last year. I am thinking of you and your family and sending you a big hug of understanding and support. If you need anything ... anything at all .. please do let me know.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

oh, bad.

warmest hugs. wrapped in softest blankets.

for you.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Sharon L. Holland said...

What a dreadful collection of events. I hope you find comfort with each other, and solace wherever it can be found.

8:14 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

I am so sorry Catherine.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Catherine. I'm sorry. I live a great distance from all of my family members as well, many of whom keep quiet about illnesses and injuries, leaving me to berate myself for not being there to help comfort them.

Your grandmother, your mother, and you and your family will be in my thoughts.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

I'm so sorry, Catherine, for everything. Be strong but also allow yourself time to be utterly overwhelmed ... sometimes it helps the confusion to just let it all out in the privacy of one's bathtub.
Best of luck, with everything.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

So very sorry Catherine - being away from family is difficult enough. And so much more so with a child and parents who are ill.

Breathe sweetie.

8:41 PM  
Blogger jo(e) said...

How difficult. I'm sorry you have all this to deal with.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so, so sorry, Catherine. Please know that I am thinking of you and your family, and here to provide any kind of support that I can.

hugs to you.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Namito said...

When it rains, it pours.

Please take care of yourself. I know how difficult that distance is. Sometimes a loving voice and ear on the phone is all we can give. Don't be too hard on yourself.

My thoughts are with you.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Nichole said...

My warmest thoughts are with you during your time of struggle.

Be well, and take all the time your heart needs.

10:02 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

My thoughts are with you. I know how important grandparents are. I still miss and think about my maternal grandfather. He didn't let on much, but as his first grandchild (out of 30, I know he had special worries for me.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

So much pain, all at once. I'm so sorry, Catherine. Sending your warmest wishes.

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:19 AM  
Blogger OhTheJoys said...

Thinking of you...

8:55 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

My heart, prayers, positive thoughts all go to you and your family today.

I understand this pain and longing you feel to be near the ones you love in their times of trial and need. Those are your times of trial and need too.

Hoping you can find peace soon.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Wow. To say you're dealing with a lot right now is an understatement.

I understand the distance thing. A lot. Last Christmas, my mother was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer. I had just given birth two months earlier. My mom lives close to 5 hours away. During her chemo treatments, I wanted nothing more than to be able to go and help, but with a newborn and another small child, and with my husband unable to take off from work, it would have been too difficult.

It's not supposed to be like that. So I'm thinking of you, and your family. And hoping you find a little space of peace, and a little of that light you're finding so elusive right now.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Distance bites. Whether it's geographical, temporal or emotional, it just makes the whole existential thing that much more painful. I know.

No guilt. You have enough pain, don't throw guilt in with it. Life is what it is, distance is what it is, and your only options now are what you'll do with it. I know you'll do the right thing.

10:51 AM  
Blogger karla said...

I am so sorry you have to go through all of this right now. My Grandma suffered the same sadness that your Step-Grandmother is going through at the beginning of this year. My thoughts are with you.

Your words"
"Love can make any distance shrink, disappear; it draws the horizon to us, it allows us to touch the sun, feel its warmth, even when it is so far. Pain, fear - these make the smallest distance in time or space seem infinite, insurmountable."

- they are so poetic. Just beautiful.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Mama said...

I'm so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Gabriella said...

I am so sorry, lots of warm hugs and good thoughts are sent your way.

1:05 PM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

Catherine, I am so sorry for your pain right now...

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im so sorry, im thinking of you and ill say a little prayer *hugs*

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Catherine, I'm so sorry to hear this latest news. Hang in there, do what you can, and cut yourself a little slack for what you can't. Hug Wonderbaby and keep encouraging your mom as you both go through this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

I am sorry for your pain Catherine.

I understand.

Best wishes to you and yours.

4:14 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

I'm so sorry, Catherine. I'm sending you giant hugs and hope. And strength. Lots of strength.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry too. Sending big virtual hugs. I hope you get there soon.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Catherine. I'm so sorry for it all - I hope you get there safely whenever you can.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Jezer said...

Ah, C, I'm so sorry to hear this. I am sending many thoughts and prayers your way.

6:37 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Gah! I'm so sorry to hear all of this. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
I can't imagine how difficult this must be. Your writing about family and distance really struck a chord with me.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best I can offer from a distance ... {{{BEAR HUG}}}

8:54 PM  
Blogger Mad said...

mental peace, emotional stength. These I send to you.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got so much on your emotional plate. It doesn't seem fair. I hope you can sort out all the logistics and get there sooner. I'm so sorry. I wish I could help. {{hug}}

12:09 AM  
Blogger Go Mama said...

So sorry. As if you need any more on the proverbial plate.

Wishing you peace, strength, and enough love to go around. And rest.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

HUGS! And thanks for telling us. My thoughts are with you.

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Separation is so difficult in times like these. It makes us feel guilty, even though we have done nothing wrong. It makes us feel alone even when we are with our immediate family. It makes us feel helpless and small and the world seem even larger than it is.

Thinking of you.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Separation is so difficult in times like these. It makes us feel guilty, even though we have done nothing wrong. It makes us feel alone even when we are with our immediate family. It makes us feel helpless and small and the world seem even larger than it is.

Thinking of you.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

I understand these words. I just posted about my grandma and how she misses my grandfather...Prayers for your dad to be strong and have peace.
And prayers for you, as well.


3:17 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Thinking of you.


5:28 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Late to the gathering, but I wanted to add that I am so sorry for your loss, and for all the other stress you are enduring. You've had a rough time lately, and I can only hope some good heads your way soon.

9:29 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I'm sorry I didn't comment before - I was just browsing at work and didn't want to dash off something stupid.

I know how this feels. I came back from vacation some years ago to a message saying that my granny was dying fast and might not last the week. There's panic and guilt and fewar and sorrow and hope and despair because there isn't really hope and it's all mixed together into one big heavy lump of hurt and I sorry, so sorry, that you are there now. A big hug from me, although I'm guessing some cuddles and sweet baby kisses from WonderBaby are a better balm than anything I could offer.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Kara said...


12:53 PM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I've been MIA a few days and am so sorry to have missed this. I'm far from all of my fmaily too and completely understand how the distance amplifies the pain and longing. I'll be thinking of you and your family during this trying time.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

I am so sorry. I've been wrapped in my own trials and having been keeping up as I should.

I will be thinking about you and your family and wishing all comfort and some peace.

3:33 PM  
Blogger the mystic said...

Oh Catherine I'm so sorry. No words are adequate in these situations.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Blog said...

This is so sad, but so beautiful. I hope writing this helped you release some of what you're feeling. I'm so sorry about your step-grandmother and devastated to hear that Tanner is "stumbling." Your mother will be fine. Melanoma is the most curable cancer. My stepmother-inlaw has survived (the worst kind of) breast cancer. It will be alright. I'm thinking of you, and hoping, and praying. I really feel for you. You have a lot on your plate. ((Hugs))

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine, I'm so sorry to hear about your step-grandmother. I am praying for her and you and all of your family.

It's been difficult for me to express my emotions about grandparents, because the anniversary of my grandmother's death was on Wednesday.

I hope that everything turns out for the best. I pray that she doesn't suffer and that she can recover. It's too hard to lose loved ones before Christmas.

God bless,

11:56 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

I am so sorry to hear this - both about your step-grandmother and your mother. Words don't really comfort in times like these, but I do pray that your family can pull together to comfort each other during this difficult time.

8:09 PM  

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