I removed the post about my mother’s death for a number of personal reasons, some of them complicated. Please know that its disappearance doesn’t erase my gratitude for the responses so thoughtfully shared—they’re now saved as “private”. What astonishes me most about comments and emails from readers is just how heartfelt and personalized they are—at all times, both joyous and battered. That people take care and considerable energy to respond to my posts still amazes me and I will never underestimate the power of that connection. Among other recent emails, was a note from a 17-year old reader in California. Her words eclipsed my day at a point when I was cloaked in sadness. And a long-time reader from Ireland, whose music alone is crystalline bliss, shared words that lifted my spirit immeasurably. I’m certainly aware of the very small imprint my blog makes in the grand scheme of things. But to know that my intention and images resonate with people young and old, from far flung places, brings me tremendous comfort and no small amount of surprise.
I go to work and move through the motions almost seamlessly, as though a piece of my life hasn’t been cleaved. There’s no safe space to crawl into, no time to give over to grief. Other people’s needs fill every inch of my day and I function on autopilot as I respond to them. Still, there’s reassurance in discovering that daily routine provides direction when you’re unsure of your compass, when you feel as though you’re trying to outrun grief.
I arrive home and fatigue smacks me down. I avoid the dishes, my hunger, the phone—all but Kieran and the cat. It frightens me to know that my grief is severed and at times inaccessible. Last week, I sat in a local restaurant with my older son. As the tables filled around us, I felt myself recoil from the noise, from people encroaching. A song came on overhead and my throat clutched and tears spilled. Several days later I was trudging through snow on my way to work. The snow banks were so high, the sidewalk narrowed to single file. A woman approached and I stepped aside. The warmth and gentleness of her smile instantly brought me to tears. Kieran picked up his guitar last night, quietly strummed it, and I cried from another room. The minor chords always seem the saddest. They give us a reason to cry. They unlock the tears.
There is a definitive moment immediately after someone passes, when you step into the outside world, and with the very first thing you see—a bus going by, a car door opening and closing, someone shifting a bag from one hand to the other—you’re shaken by the awareness that life rushes on, and the one who has passed will never again witness life’s ordinary motion. In that moment, the finality of someone being gone is incomprehensible.
I’m ready for release: from the necessity of managing my grief, from winter, from struggle. Thank you for being so willing to meet me on the other side of that.
PS Comments are closed on this post, but I thank you for reading.