Nothing Prepares You

Lisbeth Life, Mindset

Nothing prepares you for death, not really.

  • No book
  • no words
  • no people
  • no tests
  • no support group.

You aren’t fully prepared by the living or the dying, and certainly not by the dead who hold the secrets but cannot share them with us.

It’s kind of bewildering. Even though we all know death is coming for us and everyone on this human thrill ride, we as a society (mostly) ignore death like a runaway train. Can’t stop it. You can only scream at what you think might happen and then cry afterward. Best to ignore it. Look, we have cookies.

I haven’t written on this blog in the 24 days since my mother died. I’m a blogger. It’s part of what I do — this weird public documentation and exploration of our human experiences in some hope that if I show you my heart, you can find hope or healing or humor there and so can I.

My writing reveals me like a human refrigerator with clear drawers and shelves. Slide that drawer open and there’s the ache and inspiration of a thousand workouts. Top left shelf: here’s what my children taught me. Bottom right: the pockets of sunshine gifted me by others.

Oh no, don’t move anything or look in the back. I hide the unclean and the unpleasant and the unmentionables back there until I am ready to mention them, which may be never or tomorrow. The rhyme and reason of writing beats in time to some song none of us hear but only feel. When the bass gets loud enough, I type.

Like many people, I pick and choose my public displays, but lately I have chosen my paper journals and nothing much public.

Why? Because when your mother dies, most of life becomes all too important and all too much bullshit at the same time. Nothing makes sense and everything speaks. It’s a mess.

I am 8 and waiting to blow out candles. My mother wears glasses and is smiling. These two things are true for most of her life.

Now I’m stepping out of that mess. I’ve taken almost a month after my mother passed, and I am no way near processing all of what has happened, will happen, ever happened in this or any other lifetime. But I am a writer and words have always been the way I make sense of me and this world.

So here goes. It’s my return to opening the door and showing you inside. This might be pretty, it might be ugly — it’s likely to be both — but it will be real.

I’m not here looking for sympathy. I’m just looking to breathe again.

I’m not the first person to lose and I will not be the last.

Many of you have traveled this path of loss before me, many of you are walking on it now, and some of you are eating the cookies because you just don’t know what to do. That’s okay, too.

If I’ve learned anything in this world from my mother, it’s this: there is never enough kindness. Never.

So let us remember this rule before all the other ones: be kind.

Time to move onward to writing and exploration and love and loss and a million broken hearts because life is ridiculously beautiful even as it is ridiculously painful. That’s the secret, after all, isn’t it? That’s how we keep going.

This beauty and love, like biscuits always balanced on our dog noses. We flip and get the treat sometimes, and sometimes we get nothing but sorrow.

Still we go on. Like the author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote recently after she suffered a huge loss on the same day my mother left this world: “I have no idea who I will be on the other side of this loss, but that’s ok; somehow I will find out.”

Lisbeth Life, Mindset

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