About as Naked as it Gets

I cried in the shower tonight. I guess I was hoping that the hot water and the sound of silence would somehow magically soothe my hurting heart. But the longer I let the heat warm my body and felt the water pound against my back, the harder I cried. I rested my head against the shower wall hoping to find my inner calm. But, I didn’t. Instead, in my shower of tears, I discovered something else. Grief, pain, and loss made a re-entry into my emotional orbit. A perfect storm. A trifecta of emotions.

Most days, I’m okay. I’ve done my best to manage my grief, and perhaps that’s where I went wrong. Or maybe not. It did, after all, lead me to write.

But here in the stillness of a cold January night a few days shy of the day five years ago when my world came crashing down, I feel incredibly raw. I’ve stripped down. I am naked with emotion. I am tired of pretending to be okay, when in fact at this moment, I am not. Beneath it all is a daughter who merely misses her mom, although there is nothing simple about it. The complexity with which I feel scares me yet it is also somehow freeing.

I fight to understand the intensity with which the floodgates have opened.

I retreat because it is easier to carry this storm in silence and the deluge of my heart; all the while knowing that letting it out – even in the sanctity of my own four walls – is a pathway for continued healing.

I still long for the day when I can talk about my mom’s passing and the connection we had without that lump forming in my throat and tears welling in my eyes. I’ve found it makes some people uncomfortable and that others don’t understand. And I don’t expect them too. Then again, I’ve been quietly comforted and happily reminded too by sharing my story. The latter, of course, telling me that in finality there is also a beginning.

Grief, pain, and loss are strong emotions. They mix like an exquisite cocktail, and as you sip it slowly and with intent, it quietly packs one hell of a punch. It can leave you dizzy, unsettled, and numb. Your head may hurt, and your eyes may swell from the tears that won’t stop. It is the supreme hangover for which the only remedy is to work through it.

I suppose the tears allow me to acknowledge these feelings. The tears make it real and allow me to continue to heal.

I question the flood of emotions that ransack my heart so randomly – and unexpectedly. And so I sit here and cry some more. A part of me says that I should stop. Enough already. Let it go. That other part of me – the one who knows that self-care is essential – allows me to feel this. All of it – as ugly and as thick as it is – because I am a human whose emotions and feelings run deep. And despite the trembling that accompanies my acknowledgment is knowing that it makes me feel better to feel this. I suppose the tears allow me to acknowledge these feelings. The tears make it real and allow me to continue to heal. I am consoled by my non-judgemental canine child who nuzzles close to me and whimpers softly – his way of saying “its okay momma, I’m here.”

I don’t quite know how to explain how I feel. I suspect it is different for each of us. But for me, pain and sadness are a vice grip, and at times, it is difficult to breathe. Until it isn’t. I can’t explain why now, after almost five years, the sadness still invades my heart. But, I suspect it is because I loved her so much. I used to think that I had to apologize for being sad, for feeling what I am feeling and for embracing my vulnerabilities. But I don’t. And I won’t. The loss is genuine, as is pain and sadness. We all experience it, and we all work through it in our way. Some of us are more compassionate toward others going through it and some of us not. I can’t begin to understand what makes us all tick or why one person deals with it one way and me another. But for me, it is this right here.

I am stripping away the layers.

I am feeling with every ounce of my being.

It’s who I am.

Admittedly, I’ve wished that I wasn’t such an emotional being. And, I’ve tried. But I didn’t like wearing that facade. It doesn’t mean that I am weak. I am not fragile — just the opposite.

I found my strength in my pain and loss.

I found my voice in my pain and loss.

But most of all, I found my way.

I’ve learned, from my mother mind you, to be resilient. And while she always told me to “never let the turkeys get me down,” I have to admit that I sometimes do. But, I’ve found, in those times that I can see my way through and pull myself back up.Why? Because like she always said, “You’re made of good stuff.”


Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis
Laura credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom, who always believed in her. Writing unabashedly from the heart and inspired by millions of moments, three tenets of evergreen advice that her mom always shared with her are her guiding principles. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. Laura’s creativity also comes to life in her passion for photography. Her ongoing love affair with the moon, her joy for family and friends, her connection to nature, and being a loving canine mom often become some of her best subjects. Laura has held many roles throughout her professional career, including Brand Manager, Project Manager, and Director of Global Business Development and Sales Operations. In addition, she has a background in consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, and textiles. Laura currently works in biotechnology for Berkshire Corporation as their Product Marketing Manager. She holds a Master of Science degree in Communications and Information Management from Bay Path University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY Oswego. Originally from Northern NY, Laura resides with her husband and canine child in a small town in Massachusetts that captured her heart years ago.

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  1. Oh, Laura, what a beautiful piece, just an outpouring of your hurting heart.
    I’m very close to my daughter… I find myself always praying she will be strong and have a good man by her side when I go, if I go first. Oh, I can’t imagine seeing my beautiful dearest strongest friend in the world taken from me either.
    I lost my Mom two years ago and I’m always recalling her teaching me things, her sayings, etc…
    Losing a good Mom is sad. I’m so glad you shared this. My heart is with you.

  2. Wow… this is beautiful and powerful and deeply moving, Laura. Losing someone important is never easy. Allowing oneself to feel exactly what you feel without self-judgment or criticism may be even harder. We’ve all felt those raw emotions, but most of us don’t have the courage to share them with the honesty that you have here. Thank you for sharing this. As Bill Dickinson said, “this is humanity at its best.”

    • Thank you so much, Melissa. Your thoughtful words mean a great deal to me. Writing about pain and loss continues to be cathartic for me. My mom was my rock, and she rose above many challenges; especially in her last few years with us. I learned so much from her and always admired her for her strength and tenacity. Not much kept her down, and if it did, she still found a way to rise. That’s what I try to remember and channel as I navigate life’s challenges and embrace them too.

  3. Very beautiful Laura. I felt every word. Losing someone like a parent is always hardest. I lost my gandpa when I was eight or nine, abd tried to get into the grave to be buried with him. Think it was the first time I understood that the way someone loves you can be enduring even when they are not here. I am 50 now, and I remember his face and eyes, and how he made me feel loved. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Thank you, Donna-Luisa. I so appreciate you reading my article and sharing a slice of your story with me. While there are difficult days from time to time, I’m thankful for all the time I had with my mom when she was alive. She was a wonderful woman full of life and with a wit that you couldn’t deny. We all miss her, but we do our best to keep her memory alive. That’s why there is always laughter when my family gets together – she would want it that way.

  4. Laura, they say death never takes a holiday . The same holds true for the sometimes uncontrollable grief it causes. Your article (tremendous by the way) screams of the pain and suffering you rightfully feel. Both of my parents passed away many years ago I still grieve for them. I sorely miss the calls I made to my mother every Friday to wish her Good Shabbos. People will tell you to get over it already. They can’t and don’t understand how you feel. Grieve for as long as you need to but try to find time to smile even though it hurts. Keep your mother’s memory alive while doing all you can to honor it. It is okay for you to live a rich rewarding and happy life. Thank you for courageously sharing your feelings. I wish you all the best

    • Joel, thank you for these lovely comments and your words of encouragement. I used to speak to my mom weekly too, and after she passed away, my Aunt (her sister) and I had weekly calls. Somedays something will happen, and I think to myself how nice it would be to hear them on the receiving end as I share a story. While it makes me sad, I know that they are the angels watching over me. I feel their presence in many ways.

      Most of the time, I am okay; however, sometimes the grief comes at me like a tidal wave. I used to try to shoo it away, but now I allow myself to ride the wave. I find it works much better than filing away those feelings.

      I can tell you that we have many happy moments and remember my mom in all the best ways possible. We know she would want it that way.

    • Thanks so much, Larry for your comments. I love what you say here: “If we find our way, our journey is a story that speaks with its own voice.” So true. I feel fortunate to continue to have many journeys in my life – even the ones that have been more rugged. Life offers us so many layers, and with each one, I believe that there’s a chance for discovery.

    • Bill Dickinson, thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your kind sentiments. I’m pleased to know that it resonated with you. Even in its ugliness, it is beautiful to feel. I can’t imagine being immune to emotions and feelings.