When my mom was sick — especially the last several months — my life in Chicago revolved around my next trip to Massachusetts. I rarely spent a weekend day at home. Getting on a plane to Midway felt as routine as getting on a CTA bus. My suitcase stayed full of dirty laundry, and on my next trip to see Mom, I’d wash the clothes.
Now, the intense crises of illness, death, and memorial service planning have passed. Mom died six weeks ago. I spend my weekends at home, with Tyler, with friends. I cook and grocery shop and practice my violin. I’m starting to think about the future again: for my marriage, my quartet, my students. Part of me is very grateful that my life is so full. And part of me hates it.
The painful truth is that logistically, my life has simplified. I no longer have a mom who is dying. Yet my life is immeasurably poorer because she is gone. A traumatic crisis has ended, but the work of understanding what happened has only begun.
Sometimes, I don’t want to move on. I don’t want things to be okay. I don’t really want life to get better, or easier, or more organized. Because whatever life I move into now is a life without Mom. And what kind of life is that?
When I write about grief, I’m not writing just to tell you about myself. In fact, I’m mostly sharing because someone else you know, sometime soon, is going to lose big. And when they do, the feelings will be just as complex. Grief has so many manifestations, it reminds me of the 99 names of God in Islam. (The Bestower, the Subduer, The Provider, The Irresistible, The Lofty …) It takes time to get to know all of these faces.
So I’m simply getting to know this face: the one that stands still, not ready to take the next step forward. Sometimes in loss, you’re not interested in feeling better. You hold tight to the sadness of the present, because the future has a gaping hole that can never be fixed.
On a different note, dearest readers, today I am celebrating my fiftieth post here. This blog has developed in to a wonderful creative space for me, and a gathering place for friends and colleagues around many issues that I care about. Thanks for reaching out, supporting, and being part of it. I’m always curious to see what resonates with you and what kind of writing you find valuable. See you Monday!