My brain will often start looping bad things… “she’s gone; she’s not coming back” is a refrain that will pop up. I also frequently get “I wonder what she would have been doing today?” or the even worse “She didn’t make it”. It’s horrible. I hate it. It’s every bit as bad as one might imagine.
When I used to get stuck in these loops, I’d just try to grab at anything I could to rescue myself. But, when there is no target, there is no success. I ended up just thinking to myself (literally) “Something Good!” over and over.
That was not an effective rescue.
I had to come up with a good memory that I could easily recall. My crutch and the better solution to “something good”. It pulls me out of the loop of my brain trying to sabotage me.
She’s always kept short hair. She looked better in short hair. Long hair weighed down her face. But short-haired teenage girls in very small towns have a notoriously hard time finding good haircuts in the Wal-Mart salon. It’s mostly a bad scene.
Most of the time she’d get her haircuts in Grand Rapids, but sometimes it just got to be too long and needed attention. Pronto. So, she’d gather up $15 from me and head to Wal-Mart and hope for the best.
She came home one day and the haircut was worse than normal. The stylist had one short haircut in her repertoire and it was “10-year-old boy”. It looked terrible. She went to my mom and dad’s house and asked my mom to clean it up. My mom resisted but Z could be very (very) persuasive.
Haircut #2 with my mom started and ended quickly. My mom gave it her best effort but the real major accomplishment of the second haircut was to further shorten the boy haircut. This was still a problem.
Z decided her hair could still be rescued. It would be shorter than normal, but there was still the possibility of a salvage. She took another $15 and headed back to the Wal-Mart salon. This time she went to the manger.
Sidebar: Z was not afraid to ask for a manager. I’d often joke around telling her that her first words were “I’d like to speak to the manager please”
Anyway, she’s with the manager at the Wal-Mart salon ready to get her third haircut of the day. After discussion, the manger decides the only way to salvage the mess is to go straight to a buzz cut.
Z was all manner of brave. She had spunk and moxie and never backed down from a challenging situation. She met everything head-on. When the manager told her the only fix was a buzz-cut, Z agreed and let it happen.
Her hair was gone. In Winter. In Northern Michigan.
She embraced it. Really, there was no other option. She could have cried about it, but it wouldn’t have made any difference. She called me later in the evening and told me the saga of the three haircuts – giving the story dramatic flourish, telling me about the tragedy in having to pay $30 for a buzz cut that she could have done herself and the general absurdity of the entire situation. She really leaned into that buzz cut. She embraced it at school and didn’t shy up because of it. Which, considering she was an 18-year-old high school student, was a pretty good way to get behind the situation.
Three haircuts is my touchstone memory to pull me out of the looping in my brain.
As I’m writing this, it’s organically feeding into this thought I’ve been tossing around. My need to find that lost humor. I need humor in my life as much as I need anything else. Humor is the food for my soul. When I was having my shower thoughts last night, I decided if humor evades me, I need to go on the hunt. It won’t come naturally, so I will start forcing it back into my life. It’s going to be uncomfortable and probably ugly, but I’m tired. I’m going to make the change.
I’m going to try to write more funny things. Not all the time. I won’t be in the mood all the time. But I’m going to plant humor where there is none and hope for the best.
I need this for my sanity. Her death has taken so much from me that I can’t also give away more of my life. It’s like finding the thief that broke into your house to write out a check for what is also in your bank account. It makes no sense. Also, analogies are still dumb.
Many mothers have gone before me in this situation. As long as there have been children, there have been children that have passed away early. It is a fact of life that I cannot change. I am not a trail-blazer or mentor. I really don’t even have original thought on the subject. I just paid WordPress $50 for the year and here I am with self-published thought.
I can’t rescue her. I can try to rescue myself. I can pull myself out of this diabolical mixture of moroseness and self-pity and dis-belief.
Maybe. I mean I wrote those past two paragraphs with as much gumption and intestinal fortitude as I can muster. I also realize it’s a pendulum and I’m not always going to be on this up-swing. But I have a plan and that’s something.
This whole business is frustrating. 0 stars. Would not recommend.