I’ve been waiting for my grief over my mother’s death to kick in ever since she died November 28.
I was on the cusp of another milestone moment: the birth of my first grandchild. I spent the weeks following her death far from my familiar routines, busy helping my son and his wife as we hunkered down and waited for the birth.
There were moments when grief seeped in. Like the dream where I was having a party and she decided to leave, and I begged her, “Stay, please don’t go.”
Or the holiday play we went to a week to the day after she died. At the end, the cast sang “Auld Lang Syne,” and I, in the first row, was unable to stop the tears streaming down my cheeks.
Or the day we picked up her ashes and brought them home. That day became the night her first great-grandchild was born; a red-head like his great-grandmother (at least for now).
I thought the grief would smack me in the face when I came home, where her absence would cut like a knife through my usual routines...but I hit the ground running. So many details related to managing her estate, much of it beyond my understanding. Lots of things to go through in her home, despite the massive effort my sister and brother-in-law put in over the Christmas holidays. Lots to do, lots to think about, lots of ways to avoid deeper feelings.
And now we’re two weeks away from her memorial service. I’m enveloped in old pictures, old letters, old poetry and scribblings -- by her life, in pictures and words. I wake up in the wee hours and feel compelled to complete its organization.
This is where I’ve found my grief: it’s here, at 2 am as I read the letter she wrote her parents just before my first birthday, trying to persuade them to drive from Houston to Cincinnati for Christmas despite the snowy weather. (They didn’t.) Or the wistful poem she wrote my brother on the cusp of adulthood. In going through all the old pictures, from her childhood through her final days, and the memories they invoke.
In the hopeful light shining from her eyes as a young woman and aspiring opera singer, ready to take on the world.
And so I sit here in the wee hours of the morning and I scan pictures and letters, and I cry. I’m here, in the dark, remembering the imperfect and sometimes maddeningly obstinate woman who was my mother. Wishing I could call her up and talk about the feelings her death has aroused, even while knowing she was never good at talking about things like that, preferring to put them in the writings I gather and preserve.
And so, I mourn at last and with love for this wonderfully fierce woman who was my mother.