I think it’s lucky I sometimes start things without understanding its significance before I’m in the middle of it all. I do that when I write all the time. I never plot a story from start to finish. I have a general idea and work towards “checkpoints” in the story. But I usually have no idea how to get there or what’ll happen after. Most of the time, those scenes where the characters grow take me by surprise. It’s not until I’m halfway through the chapter that I understand what is happening and go, “Oh!” It’s like my characters suddenly stop and say, “Open sesame” as they reveal something hidden I had no clue about. I think my internal life is like that as well. I get an idea, do it and then in the middle of it all, I understand why I’m doing it.
May is a shitty month for me. It’s my mother’s birthday on the 11th. It’s hard celebrating your mom’s birthday when she’s dead. This year was the second birthday since she passed, (Happy 58th Birthday, Mom.) It’s always emotionally draining. It’s of course, a blatant reminder that she’s not here. But it’s also tiring because by now people expect me to hold my life together even when confronted with difficult dates. They’re understanding, send me nice messages etc. but she’s been dead for twenty-two months, people expect me to be melancholy but still keeping it together.
I do. Now my grief is not explosive or volatile. I have control of it, I express it, I allow myself to feel it, but I don’t let it control me.
But despite that, these dates and reminders take their toll. I get tired. My sleep patterns get all jumbled and I dream a lot. I feel like I never sleep deep enough to get the rest I need like my brain is in overdrive all night. It ‘s to be expected I guess, there’s a lot to process.
Then there’s the sadness. It’s exhausting being sad. Especially when it’s functioning sad. When you’re in that acute stage of sadness it’s like your body is protecting you. I’ve never slept as deep and untroubled as I did the first week or two after my mother died. My body just stopped, like my brain said, “Ok guys if we don’t switch her off for a while she’ll break.”
But, now I’m at that stage where I function. I’m tired but I get up, go to work, do my job, pay the bills, laundry, cooking, eating, etc. I do everything I need to do but the sadness is a constant. It’s like you’re hemorrhaging energy.
So yeah, my mom’s birthday and then towards the end of the month, as I start to get back on track, that’s when we celebrate mother’s day here in Sweden. Fuck off, May, you suck.
Where was I going with this?
My unconscious, right. I’m fortunate enough to have a what I consider a large apartment all to myself. I live in a roughly 920 sq ft two bedroom apartment. I have one small bedroom and one large. When I moved in last year, I decided that the large one should be a “gaming/craft/misc” room. But I’ve not spent much time in here. I’ve used my laptop sitting on the couch in my living room instead. Coincidently I’ve had problems with my back. I decided with as much as I’m writing now, not an hour here and there as I used to but sometimes hours every day, I need to think about ergonomics. I invested in a good mechanical keyboard and mouse and vowed to sit at my desk when I write.
I’ve not been writing much now when I’m so tired. Mostly I end up staring at mindless youtube videos, like unboxing videos and such. But I was sitting at my desk yesterday and I thought, “I should move my desk.” It’s been standing against my window so I’ve had a view. Now, eight months out of the year that’s not a problem in Sweden because it’s dark. This time of year though it’s never dark, it’s sunny, I’m not a sun person.
So yeah, I rearranged my furniture. I put my desk under some shelves I have on a wall. At the time there were a few hundred CDs on them and I thought it would be nice to arrange the shelves to hold some of my nicer “reference books ” for tv shows I like, my POP’s and nicer comics, like a “nerd shrine.” So I started putting all the CDs in these large plastic containers I have and decided to store them in an empty closet I have in this room. I thought that way I could still listen to them but I’d free up shelf space and really, 99,9% of the time I listen to Spotify.
That’s when it hit me, standing with my furniture in a mess and about half of four hundred CDs in boxes I realized I was finally making this my room, not my mom’s.
As the only child, I got everything. My mom’s partner (I will not call a sixty-seven-year-old-man “boyfriend”) got some insurance money, and we split the things they’d bought together. It was all very amicable. But they kept their finances separate and had only been together for about ten years, so I got pretty much everything.
My mom was very artistic, she quilted and made jewelry. When I moved she turned my old bedroom into a music/craft/reading room. I didn’t realize until this weekend that when I moved into this apartment, I set it up exactly as it looked in her apartment. Except for my computer and one or two more odd pieces of furniture, because this room is bigger, it has been exactly the same. I’ve had a shrine to my mother in my apartment for sixteen months. What makes it even worse, is that it was the room I lived in during her illness. Apart from an odd day here and there when I stayed in my own apartment, I slept in that room from December to June.
In June 2015, the doctor told us the tumors were gone (spoilers, they weren’t) and they wanted her to do a few sessions of radiation therapy, just to be on the safe side. Then the treatment would be over, she’d won.
Mom decided it was time for me to move back home. That I didn’t need to be there 24/7 as soon as I had a day off from work. That, I should get my own life back. Rest. See my friends.
I spent a whole day cleaning that room. She would finally be well enough to use it again and I wanted it to be perfect for her. I organized her CDs and LPs, dusting them, putting them on the shelf in alphabetical order. I sorted her craft supplies, washed the window, hand scrubbed the floor and then, I folded up the shitty IKEA bed I’d been sleeping on for six months and put it away. The room looked so nice.
Two months later she was dead.
Another six months and I took that room and rebuilt it in my new apartment.
I miss her so much, but she’s not here. So, I’ve packed her CDs in boxes, arranged the shelves with things I love and started to put together the room the way I want it. It’s not finished but it’s more me than her now. It’s painful but I can’t quilt and I prefer Spotify over CDs.
It’s been two years since I cleaned that room and folded up the shitty IKEA bed. Enough now. My mom is with me everywhere I go. But I can’t have a shrine to her in my apartment any longer. This is my room. I have to learn to be ok with that.