My mother suddenly passed away a few weeks ago, just two days after her 71st birthday. In many respects, I am still oscillating back and forth between being in denial and feeling completely numb. One minute I convince myself she is just on vacation and the next I am sitting on my bed staring blankly at her photo, trying to force myself to cry.
It all feels so surreal. I guess this is grief.
I have been watching my family closely, trying to grasp and latch onto aspects of their sorrow that I find strangely comforting. I call out to my mother several times a day, maybe because it makes me feel closer to her, or maybe because I feel like the days of saying her name out loud are numbered.
I don’t want them to be.
I turn to the Internet to research grief and the loss of a parent, but the words terrify me. “A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones."
I have many friends who have lost a parent too soon, mostly fathers. What about them? And what about a son without a mother? Will my brother feel broken, too? What sort of pain will settle deep into his bones?
I try to rationalize her death. She lived a beautiful life. At least she went quickly. But that doesn’t help, either.
Yes, by all accounts I am a grown woman. But I am 32. I am single and I have no children. My mother was my family. She was the center of my universe. My heart. My home.
Her death has changed every dusty corner of my life and will completely transform the person I will become. I believe this to be true not only for myself, but for my family as well.
I pray and I pray hard. It’s funny how, when things are going well, I feel like I don’t need faith. But from the very second I found out my mom was slipping away, I found myself clutching the rosary that had been collecting dust on my bed post for the past three years. This gives me peace. I know she is with me. I know she is in a better place.
And yet, the worst is yet to come. The other shoe will inevitably drop and the depth of the loss will hit me like a truck. This terrifies me.
There are the tangible reminders of my mother’s life; her beautiful rings, her fine lace dresses, her hairbrush and her lipstick. And then, there are the reminders of grief that manifest themselves deep within my body. An aching heart, restless sleeps, exhaustion, not eating enough, eating too much. Before this, I had never realized what a profoundly physical experience loss can be.
I can only describe these first weeks without my mom as trying to swim through molasses. But, life goes on. People hustle down the street, laugh with their families and have nights out with their friends. And while I desperately want all of them to feel the the pain that I do, I realize that I have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other. And thats just what I’m doing.