my grief observed
I am grasping for words, I type, delete, type, delete, type.
Something unrelated to the story of our homestead weighs so heavily on my mind and heart that I feel I can not write anything else until I write this. An email was sent, and it hangs in the air of my home.
I was told I was not handling my mother’s death in a mature or responsible way because of snippets of an argument that was overheard. They went on to say that they once had a friend who lost a parent and that they know there are a lot of irrational emotions involved. I was floored. It took awhile for the hurt and anger to settle in, I was dazed with shock. I barely talk to this person and have not spoke to them at all concerning the nightmare that is death and the grief that follows.
I am 28, my mother died two months ago from stage 4 breast cancer. I don’t feel like it has fully sunken in. One moment sharp pain pierces me, I feel my eyes well up, my vision blurs, I swallow hard and my body begins to shake. While another moment it feels unreal, like she is just home in Iowa and I will call her later tonight as I walk through the woods. I have called her a few times, listened to her voicemail message, listened to voicemails she had left me, reread her texts.
Her death affects me, it always will. It comes in waves. I know with time the waves will break less heavily, the memory of her last month and the image I see of her dead face will fade and I will think of her only as the warm body that moved, breathed and loved. I am surprised by the resilience of man, his ability to live, to continue on, to pick up the pieces and run the race. I am surprised to find myself moving, surprised to find myself living my life as I did before, even though so much has changed and so much will never be the same.
My past with my mother is untouched by death. Her memory and all she has poured into my life can not be taken by death's cold hands. It is evergreen in hearts of all who knew her. We are separated by more than just miles now, but our future is unchanged, I will see her again.
Today. Today is what is different, today is where we live, where we experience joys and pains. Today is where I live, where I keep hold of the memories and where I find hope for the future. Today I know she is free, no longer living under the shadow of death. I believe she is no stranger to our lives, I believe she sees us, sees Anna, still delighting in her family, in her grand daughter. This is the hope that has anchored my soul.
So am I handling my mothers death in a “mature and responsible way”, am I irrational about death? What would it look like to handle death in a “mature, responsible and rational way” versus an “immature irresponsible and irrational way”? I don’t really know, I have never thought about my own pain or anyone’s pain over death in that way.
There is certainly pain in death and that pain can not stay contained inside our bodies. But pain is not weakness, it is not wrong. Pain is real, it is ok, it is a part of life. I am not ruled by my pain, I am not angry because of it, I am just in pain. While there is much I can not understand, I see a bright future, my dreams are not faded, if anything I feel I must love and dream more. I carry all she has taught me and try to live out those teachings. I am her daughter, she is my mother. I feel I must continue the work she left behind, in my own way.
I think we all deal with death in whatever way we can. We keep moving, keep breathing and hope that we are on the right track. We are not the same as we were before, but neither is anyone from one day to the next.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”