Motherhood in the Nosebleeds

Five years ago, I wrote this blog post to process what I experienced when my mother was killed by a drunk driver.

Years later, it became the first chapter of Keeping Kyrie.

I also wrote this open letter to the man who killed her, and published it with permission from my brother, because we didn’t want to be poisoned by what had happened.

Saying goodbye was hard enough.

My mother’s life was hard, with difficult life experiences and mental health issues that challenged her interactions with others and peace of mind. From beginning to end, these afflictions haunted her, and in the middle of it was us kids. Besides all that, her depression that was there before we were born grew worse once we arrived – bringing with us all the joys of post-partum depression along with everything else.

I tried to help, tried to be good, and tried to make her laugh. I even claimed my baby brother as soon as he came home. I wanted to protect him, and care for both of them, and managed to stay in his way until we were off to start our own lives.

Everything fell apart after that, as we all struggled to pull ourselves together, to heal and become our own selves, and to find our way full circle.

Nathan shared the eulogy he wrote for my mother, and sometimes I re-read it, just to remember the compassionate way he tied things up in a bow for her. He was always good at that.

He was good for her.

My mother giggled and laughed those last four months more and harder than I had ever even seen her smile. It was amazing.

His love for her was an act of service for her and me both, and he is why we finished well in the end.

Her death was hard. Really hard.

When my father died from cancer, that was slow and awful but it gave us time as a warning. We were still reeling from that, and focused on his temple work (like a memorial ritual in our faith tradition, but bigger than that), when her car accident happened out of nowhere without warning. I think that’s part of why it was so complicated for us.

And the fact that I was supposed to be driving. There’s that.

My final rebellion, at the last minute, to stay home curled up with Nathan because of morning sickness.

And she went anyway, by herself.

And almost made it home again.

Except she didn’t.

Ten minutes away, maybe fifteen.

She was so close.

But then the lady took her leave.

I took leave tonight. It’s my weekend off, so I am supposed to work tonight. I thought enough years have passed that it would be easier, but not this anniversary and not that ER. I just couldn’t do it.

But falling apart isn’t an option, either, so I stayed busy. I worked hard, all day long. And once again, so did Nathan. Because love.

We spent the morning doing homeschool, of course.

But while I did that, Nathan put the children’s new beds together! They were finally delivered, and it took all day to get most of them assembled. We are so grateful for these gifts for our little ones as they spread out.

We got Alex moved back into the room with Barrett, which seems to work better for them both. That gives Mary the whole hall to herself, which she was super excited about. Then we got Kyrie’s junior loft bed put together and wired for oxygen and ready for feeds and full of baby dolls and books. Anber got settled under her, and we were all glad to have their room cleaned up !

Kirk’s bed is a surprise for his birthday next week!

Everyone worked so hard and helped so much! It normalized a hard day for me, and got most of us through it in one piece.

And just when I wondered how to distract myself through the evening, a friend messaged about free tickets to the Oilers game.

Hockey seemed about as far away from my mom as I could get, so that felt perfect.

Alex missed out because we found remnants of all the missing food in his room when we moved it, plus shreds of his stuffed animals and blankets and bedsheets. He had used safety scissors from his school box to destroy his bedding! That boy! So yeah, we still aren’t ready for a pocketknife.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that adorable and hilarious nine year old is really a five year old emotionally. He’s come so far, and I am so proud of him! But parenting is a challenge when you are trying to untangle behavior versus delays.

Parenting is also hard when your worst nightmare is the most exciting thing to happen to these kids so far this year! Long lines, crowds, and steep stairs to the nosebleed section! We were so high!

But the children had their sprites and hot dogs (a continuation of the nightmare) and thought it was amazing! They had so much fun! They screamed and cheered and gave me a good picture with their mouths full of food.

And all teasing aside, we really feel strongly about taking the children to cultural events – and this counts.

They need more than just the events that are my favorite.

They need exposed to all kinds of things, even hockey.

Because that’s what good mothers do: give kids junk and teach them how to fight.

Just in case, I guess, for when Alex gets that pocketknife some day.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Motherhood in the Nosebleeds — 2 Comments