I don’t know when it happened…that moment I realized I would be okay. All I know is that gradually it has become easier to breath, to sleep, to laugh, to feel.. I’m still not as brave as before, but I have picked up my dreams and am again making plans for the future.
But only after days and days, and nights of something else. My mother’s death was the beginning of a journey with no destination…only the slogging will to make it through the day and then tomorrow, and the next day, and then the next.
After the public rituals of grief were over and friends and relatives retreated to their own lives, I returned to mine forever altered. The sun hiding behind a cloud; the world around me was suddenly moving at a different pace. I was quite certain it was being powered by society’s oblivion to anything meaningful.
I was sure part of me had died as well.
I would awake each morning unsure whether I could do all that was still expected… empty, heartsick, emotionally exhausted. I mistakenly thought that returning to work would be best (not)! Five days a week spent shoving down my feelings, pretending to be normal…really? Struggling to remember things, to complete simple tasks, I couldn’t make even easy decisions. By the end of the day, I was fighting back tears, and grief was waiting in the parking lot to envelope me again. Sleep was the only reprieve, but until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t remember the last time I slept through the night.
Since her death, I have carefully avoided places my Mom and I last went together. Minefields of blue pain; they were (and still are) not to be disturbed. For months, venturing into public made me anxious… I would pray no one would speak to me. Crowds are still just cruel; all those people moving about and not one of them the person I so desperately long to see just one more time.
So much of the music I love, songs I shared with my mother, the soundtrack of my life, is still off limits. The piano sits silently, gathering dust. Last played for Mom on Christmas Eve, it is hard to imagine when I might ever walk by and feel like playing it again
My phone is ringing less now, but it used to sound every day with my Dad, the King of Pain, on the other end. I scramble to answer, aware that my loss is dwarfed by his loneliness. I want him to feel free to grieve with me. Listening to his desperation, I search for words that will comfort him for about 2 seconds after they leave my mouth. Worry and sadness weigh heavy as I shoulder the burdens of the oldest.
Yesterday I caught myself thinking that I need to call Mom this week, and for an instant I felt that old excitement until I remembered. I still lay in bed at night trying, in the darkness, to remember the sound of her voice. When my sister recently asked me how I felt about beginning the process of dispersing Mom’s stuff, I started shaking at the thought of even opening her closet. .
I have staggered through the darkness with the wind of loss and longing howling in my mind. I have dreaded, confronted and survived each painful anniversary during this First Year, and the most difficult ones are yet to come. I have been afraid and lonely, vulnerable and diminished. Against the storm, I carry a flickering candle that burns with memories of home, childhood, and the undying love of my mother and the family she left as her legacy.
Today is October 20…eight months since her death. Missing her even more than I ever imagined, it is my soul’s desire to keep my promises and make her proud.
I love you Mom…I am okay.