Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Sometimes there is a pain so deep you can't put your finger on it.

Does it hurt here? There? Show me where it hurts.

It hurts everywhere.

Stephanie has been on my mind today, or should I say yesterday, since it is after one o'clock in the morning? I've been thinking of the ways in which I failed her or the ways in which I could have, should have, been a better mother to her. It's so easy to fall prey to that trap of wondering, "What if I had -- ?" or "Should I have -- ?" Had I done those things, would she still be here?

People tend to say to me, "It was her time to go" or "She is in a better place." How do you know that? How do you know that it was her time? How do you know she is in a better place? What better place could she be in than in my arms? And yet, I think of a million little ways I failed her. Maybe I didn't deserve to be her mom. Maybe she deserved a better one.

After all, we had our moments in which we didn't connect. We had our spats, our disagreements, and our times of being at odds. We had times during which we didn't speak to each other, only to one day realize how much we missed each other. I remember waking up in the ICU in February 2007, and she was standing there. It had been months since I'd heard from her, but she burst into tears and said, "Mom? Are you going to be okay?" I recovered, but she continued to seem lost and adrift.

That last holiday season was bad in many ways. She hadn't yet come to grips with her alcoholism or with the ways in which her life was spinning out of control. Thanksgiving was particularly hard, because I knew she hadn't been eating well and was couch-hopping. I went out and bought two air mattresses so that both of my kids could stay the weekend with us (since her brother was living in a rented room near the college). As it turned out, she didn't want to stay, and so she went to sleep on the couch at her brother's place. At least I knew she was safe, warm, and looked after that night. My plans for a nice dinner were ruined, as she drank her way through it and ate little. My plans for cooking a nice breakfast for both of the kids were ruined, as they left late that Thanksgiving evening. I shed many tears that night.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I made it clear that she was welcome back for Christmas dinner if she promised not to drink her way through it. She made that promise but got into the rum in the cabinet while we were at Christmas Eve services at church (which she begged out of). Nevertheless, one thing I dd get to enjoy with her was one last shopping trip.

I had always said to my sister that one of the simple pleasures I'd always hoped to enjoy with my daughter was shopping. Sometimes I'd find myself tearing up when I'd see other mother/daughter pairs out buying school clothes or looking at jewelry. Stephanie rarely wanted to do that. So when she actually agreed to go shopping with me that holiday season, I was overjoyed! We wore ourselves completely out getting her a new black wool coat, gloves, shoes, pants, and shirts. We shopped at the mall and Kohl's, and we got a Starbucks coffee together. If I remember it right, we even spent some time at the book store, one of our favorite places. I returned home a little poorer in pocket but a whole lot richer in happiness. Simple things. That's what I wanted to have with her.

It was just before New Years when she agreed to go to AA. A friend drove her to her first meeting, and she helped with her first sober New Year's Eve dance. She continued going to the group, and she not only stayed sober (save for one night's relapse) but also became an inspiration for others to get and stay sober, as well.

Though Stephanie is gone and will never share another holiday meal with us, I still have Sean and will do everything I can to lavish him with love. He and I have always had an easy friendship and mother-son bond. He gives good hugs - everyone says so - and he is a practical, responsible young man. Because of his work responsibilities, we will have an early Thanksgiving together this year. He and his friend Travis will be flying in and staying for 5 days with Denise and I. We'll cook a turkey and all the trimmings, and we will be grateful for the time we have together. We'll be grateful for another holiday season.

It is said that the holidays are tough, because all emotions are magnified. The bad things in your life seem worse, and the good things seem magical. This season will be hard without my daughter, but I know that with my son around, I'll feel our bond all the more strongly.

The holidays are creeping up on us. I'm going to need all the strength I can get to get through them. Not a moment will go by that Steph is not in my thoughts, but maybe she really is in a better place - out of pain, out of temptation, but out of my reach.

Peace - D


Maggie May said...

You're beating yourself up. It is natural to do so....... I should imagine........ to go over & over what you might have done better,
I know you were a caring mum and that you couldn't alter things.
Unfortunately alcoholism and drugs were massively responsible for what happened and that wasn't your fault at all.
You must have felt helpless watching her destroy herself........ any mother would. And no..... I don't like those phrases *it must have been her time* and *she is in a better place* either.
You want her with you. That is natural.

Your pain is there...... it is apparent to all. Only a good mum would go through what you are going through.
I wish I could help.
Please know that I do understand and grieve for you too.
((hugs)) Maggie X

Nuts in May

Ms Hen said...

The holiday season is the roughest I heard..

I cringed reading this.. since my daughter is an alcoholic and some times we are close and other times (lots of the time I feel she is a stranger to me in many ways).

I made her move out at 21.. She'll be 24 this March..

And did graduate college but only works part time.. and livign with a man .. that makes tons of money but he takes coke and pot to produce in the financial world.. and before hit rock bottom and now doing it all again??

With her disease she gave up a top accountant job after 3 weeks and rather be supported and only work part time..

Since I won't let her move back here..

The drinking was too much for me.

I fell and lost 3 teeth out of exhaustion.. before she moved out...

I worry that someday she crash her sport car or get depressed or whatever... And I'll miss her but I'll blame myself that I should have let her live here even with all the drinking and craziness.. and up at nights and falling out of exhaustion..

I'll feel it is my fault if something bad happens to her.

I just keep hoping when she is doing great.. she'll stay GREAT.. and finally get it..

I know I can't get enmeshed..

HUGS to you............ I feel your pain..............

I wish I could take it away from you...... but everyone says it gets a bit easier each year............

And none of this is your fault......... none of it.. all moms/daughters have clashes too at times; or say things; or wonder why they could do different....

It is a disease....... and a frustrating insidious ones.. and affects all of us..


I'm choosing to be happy; and when my mind wanders or I read something like this; it is because I have that fear in my heart.. what could I do different as a mom..

Syd said...

Doris, your post reminded me that I didn't cause the problem, can't control it, and can't cure it. Stephanie had a choice and finally made a decision to get sober and to help others. That is a great memory.

Akelamalu said...

I don't know why the absence of loved ones hurts more at holidays , I just know that it does. :(

There's nothing you could have done that would have made any difference. I believe we are all here on earth for an allotted time and once that time is done so are we, here at least. She'll be waiting for you. x

Sandi McBride said...

Sometimes we have to talk out our feelings of guilt, especially where no guilt should be applied...we muddle through this world doing the best we can for our children, but in the long run they must take responsibility for their lives, just as you had to do. Just keep talking, the healing will come from that.

SOUL: said...

hey D-
i feel your pain in this post-- and you know why.
i have missed you. i never got word from you of how to find your new blog, and maybe it's my fault that i have only checked here a few times. but i just noticed today that this post was here. i'm happy to see it. and to know that you are ok, and writing.
i'm happy that you will be with your son this thanksgiving. i know that will be good for you, and that you have missed him.
holidays are a tough time after a loved one is gone, especially the first set. i promise, it does get easier. maybe never 'better'. but easier.
i really do hope you can be happy through the holidays, that really is what she would want for you.
please email me , and let me know how you've been, ok?
and where i can find your new blog. that isn't so new anymore :))

have a great day--
hugs to you

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

AM following you as always...and know too that you are a toughie that will fight on and on...you have the strength and when you dont feel particularly strong...come here and we will hold you a while....

MS has been in my family and I know that there is much life and love to be had besides it....

Lots of Love and (hugs) D..

saz x