I am Questioning Everything, But my son

Am I living THIS life?

Am I living THIS life?

The death of a parent, I mean,

the death of your parents,



Start over.


When your parents are dead it is all over.

All of the expectations they had of you, all of the criticisms,

all of the Hope and Belief they might have had in you,

your desire to please THEM; 


When your parents are dead it is all over;

and it Begins    perhaps, for the first time.

A freedom born of loss has descended

Everything I thought I knew  about myself

and about them is in question.

Everything, but my Son, is suddenly up for grabs. 

My son and my Love for him is eternal;



The rest….

Not so much. 

When Daddy died a hint of this questioning entered my equation.

Mommy’s dementia put that on hold. 

Caring for my mother took the place of the grief I should have been feeling.  

I never grieved my Fathers loss;

and now

They are both dead. 

Dead and gone and I am alone. 

In  moments this Solitude is Freedom. 

In others, this solitude is a small, dark room without a window;

or a door. No Escape.

I thought I knew Loss. 

I thought I knew Grief. 

I was mistaken. 

I am questioning everything,

But my son. 

Every choice, every move, every thought and feeling. 

How much of my life has been lived?

How much has been squandered?

Have I made the best choices for ME?

And how many of my choices were made for them?

I have a page in the anthology by Mary Oliver,

Dog-eared and worn;

She says,  

 When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.”

There it is. 

I do not want to wonder. 

I want to know with 100% surety that my life has not been wasted

or worn.

I want to know with 100% surety that my life made a difference.

 I want to KNOW that the choices I made were for me and not for them. 

I thought I knew Loss.

I thought I knew Grief. 

I was sorely mistaken. 

I know nothing. 

I am starting now.

I am starting fresh,

Freedom born of loss is mine;

I can choose:

A dark room with No Exit


Solitude as Freedom. 

My parents are dead. They are gone. 

Now, I begin. 

Peace to you,  Jen


When Death Comes

by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press).

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

~ by Step On a Crack on May 8, 2012.

32 Responses to “I am Questioning Everything, But my son”

  1. A freedom born of loss… this is a poignant phrase. very moving.


  2. sadly there are days i am waiting for that freedom, although, i have taken back my power in many ways and look after me. 🙂


  3. Absolutely spot on! I agree with Louise. Moving and poignant. This is so much of what is on my mind, DFJ! Death certainly has a way of “cutting through the noise”. I’m not sure it has made anything perfectly clear (as you so graciously wrote). Some days i feel relief (or at least i get the feeling that, finally, i can breathe: The day of reckoning has come and gone for mom) and i am free. Other times, i feel like i can’t catch up? I can’t account for my life. Not necessarily feeling regret per se, but the DECISIONS i made … WHY? Mom said i was Used Goods … so i lived my life like a nun for 21 years … or was it me hiding because people hide their whole lives? Don’t know. The equalizer is death and OUR rebirth. Now we are parents (you have a son) … i have a 90 year old son. I am thrilled you have your son. I am learning about my father/son now. BUT … what will be? What do we want to do for a lifetime, or for one evening in IC for that matter! Honey, i’m with ya. D has finally talked about the job he was offered and turned down because it would mean moving to Providence. Yes, there’s mafia and crime, but for him adventure is dead. For me, i still need that. AND so, WTF am i saying?

    I’m glad YOU SAID IT … and i’m still thinking.

    Love you XO mel


    • My DFM…. I think about you SO often for 10,000 reasons. Losing Harper and gaining Harper Power; losing your mom who needed to be lost but maybe not so much (It is fricking complicated isn’t it?) Gaining your Dad and finding he is your son….

      The Grief walk is an SOB. I can’t keep up and I am a ways in. It does “cut through the noise” and Bus 59 knows I have an awful lot of noise. That is one thing I have learned from Ace’s death on: death weeds things out. The truth comes to the fore. and that is a good thing. I had a HUGE crisis of faith after his suicide and even that has turned out to be a gigantic gift.

      We need adventure. D may not. My home is pretty tame (well, sort of) and I need to find my new adventure too. Regardless of what it takes: This Shits Got to Cease…. as my dad would have said.

      I am thinking too…. We will put our two gorgeous heads together and see what comes up…

      TP anyone!!!

      Love, Jen


      • Oh yeah. Speak it to me! Death is parting the waves of noise and that drowning in my silly prittle prattle (HA HA). Oh, i prit and prat, fur shur. D … that’s not a problem. I love him deeply. He sees something in me and i see his groundedness and his fun-lovingness. Who else would let me call him moof? Or call his kids Lizanator and Laurenator: Terminators. Yes, crazy arse shit that couples create. Stupid stuff, that i love: Truly, i need that. I am finding moderation … i strive. I have someone who looks after me, and who I CAN look after. These are the important things. Never worry when i start to go on and on about needing freedom and fun! This is all part of my grief. I’m looking forward, i’m looking back. I AM HERE NOW … and it’s all about “the middle” … or weeding out the crap and keeping my KEEL straight. Man, if i could only float ALL THE TIME. I’m getting there. I sure practice a lot. Thanks for always writing from YOUR HEART and bringing up important issues … and SINGING it to me … i’m the choir in most of your posts. I love music. XO mel

        TP is on the list!


      • Wait, DO worry if i say i don’t need fun … you know what i mean. (See context) of my rant (above). ANYWAY … as ED would, not eating disorder Ellen D. Geesh!


  4. Starting new and starting fresh. The wonderful thing about life is that every day is a brand new day.


  5. Wow…..what a new way of viewing parental loss. Very true and somehow inspiring.


    • Sabina, Thank you for weighing in! It IS true and I need to NOT lose the momentum. I read a few books about suicide and the aftermath that touched on this but did not see how this could possibly be true. AND here it is. Not due to the suicide but in losing both parents. It is a weird Gift out of death.

      XO Jen


  6. Sweet Friend, you must see the movie “Sarah, Plain and Tall”. It is enchanting and is about mourning, among other things. And not having time to mourn. You may learn something . . .
    There is a book version, but the movie is one of those rare ones that does the book justice. And it just mesmerizeds, in a good way. You’ll want to see the sequel when it’s over.


    • Hey YOU! YES! I have my kid home for a week and THIS is going on the to Watch list! I keep losing track of this! Thank you for the reminder. I trust your lead totally.

      I NEED to learn something, you are one of my MomMentors. I will not lose this opportunity!

      XO Jen


      • I just loved the way folks back then stuck up for each other, in desperation. Reminds me of the love in blogland, but with skin on. 🙂


      • Oh I know! I LOVED the little house on the prairie books when I was a kid for JUST those reasons. Loyalty and Making Do. Just like the Walton’s too. I love the last line of your comment. don’t you wonder sometimes what it would be like to be together all of us in our skin all together? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?


      • Well . . . I think Debby in Graceland is planning just that very thing — of course, I think it is a virtual plan. Ha. 😉


  7. I was an orphan for quite a while before I could see any freedom in the loss and grief. Eventually, I made decisions/choices that I never would have made while my parents were alive.
    I was 49 when my Mom died and 50 when my Dad died. That’s pretty old (certainly more that half of my life is over) to start making decisions based on what my heart and my God told me – but I did.
    It was a rough go for a while, but you’re right, Jen, you do begin again.
    I think you can be the best daughter and the best Mom without living for or through your parents or your children.
    It’s a challenge to wholeheartedly love and keep your compass pointing True North.
    love to you,


    • DEBBIE! OK… Here it is. You have been here and you have come out the other side. I was mid 40’s when Daddy died and 50 when my mom died. Who knew that becoming an orphan would impact me as an adult. ORPHAN that is the word for this and it is accurate. Weird.

      How did you change? Was it you or life choices? maybe it is the same thing…

      oh my YOU are a MomMentor too and a Forever Friend.

      Love, Jen


      • I don’t know if it’s necessarily the same thing, but both.
        Someday I’ll write to you and no doubt, make a short story long.
        Forever Friend ForSure! 😀


  8. It’s interesting that so many of us cannot sail forth and free, until we untie the familial ropes to a rocky shore. My parents are gone, so I’m part way loosed–but the specter of my estranged siblings still plays havoc when I’m trying to push off, into the new–crazy stuff, bloodlines. God bless you today, Jen~~Caddo


    • Dear Caddo, You are so poetic in everything you write! Bless your gift and bless you for sharing it!

      I love “part way loosed…” I know what you mean. I have some family ‘stuff’. I struggle with “keep the family together’ VS just move on and accept what Is .. Is. I have been really trying to cut those ties too. I want to see how far I can fly without the Old Stuff. I feel guilt and I feel joy as the ties unravel. I am sorry you have this stuff to deal with! I wish for you only Peace and Grace and Cream filled cupcakes! Bless you too my friend! XO Jen


      • Well, here’s what I think, Jen–just my “experiential opinion”, okay? I think that a lot of “stuff” just falls off, as we go–if we just relax, and quit working at it so dang hard. I fully expect that a year from now, I will be more fully “loosed”–maybe not all the way, but more so than today. Rather than work at it, I just keep handing it to Jesus–and the closer and stronger I grow in Him, the braver I get. So when He gives me a “nudge”–says, “how ’bout we try something new”–I’m getting better at saying, “Okay!” instead of running for cover. When my hand is so firmly in His, how far wrong can I go? Never so far that I can’t get up and try again–that’s what He’s all about. Sleep well tonight. love, Caddo


  9. Caddo… So True! It does fall away if we let go. At first I read your comment and thought you were calling Jesus the Closer as in the “closer of a deal” on a sales floor and then I thought that kind of IS what you are saying Jesus can close ALL my deals IF I let him.

    here is a Question: Were you a woman of faith before life hit hard? How did you come to this?

    You intrigue me and inspire me my Friend!

    Love Jen


  10. Jen as long as you are writing here your life will always be one of giving, sharing, teaching and love. As Debbie said, follow that True North. He has guided you this far and through more than you could have imagined. Love and peace to you. We’re in this together.


  11. This is a nice post. Well done!
    Subhan Zein


  12. When I lost my parent’s, it was as if my foundations had crumbled. I felt like a tree with no roots being blown about in a winter’s gale. I had to rebuild; but it came back stronger and more fruitful. I hope it will for you too. 🙂


  13. it was the perfect poem for me to read today. thanks!


  14. Jen, you have a part in STAR WARRIOR, by Rose. Just thought i’d tell ya. We’re beating up on Vogue-ers. 🙂 C U soon. mel


  15. I think it’s when we realize we know nothing, & that the beginning is Right Now — THAT’s when we have real freedom, & are the most creative. It’s hard,yes, but bully for YOU, for seeing it:)


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