It’s almost impossible to believe, but it has been six years since my mom died.
Six years without seeing her face or hearing her laugh. Six years of missing her and wishing she was here to watch Meegs grow up. Six years of healing and getting past what is without a doubt one of the two hardest losses in my life. Some days it seems as if she’s been gone forever, and still harder are the days when it feels as if she was only a wonderful dream.
Grief is a funny thing. For the first few weeks, months and even years after she died I was sad and angry most of the time. The world kept turning and people kept living their lives. In the grocery store people were laughing. LAUGHING! And my mom was gone. How could they? Friends were complaining about their parents when all I wanted was one day, one hour even, with my mom.
There was an all encompassing sadness in my life that coloured everything I saw with the same cloudy, gray wash for some time. The first year was about firsts; the first birthday party without her, first day of back to school, first day of autumn, her very favourite season. And then came Christmas. All of the sparkly lights in the world couldn’t shine through this dull haze that hung over my head. I survived that first year, and that’s about it.
As time passed, how I felt changed. I did not miss her any less, and the hole in my heart didn’t begin to close, but what did happen is it began to change.
The mom shaped hole that was smack dab in the middle of my shattered heart changed shape as I began to glue the shards back in place. Some weeks this fluid shape was gaping wide open, and tears would flow from the moment I woke up until the moment I was finally able to crawl into bed. Other weeks I stuffed that space with work, chores, anything to keep it full. And then one day I realized my “fake it ’til you make it” strategy had actually worked.
Sure, I missed my mom. I will always have that hole in my heart, but I had finally healed. The ragged edges of grief and pain and longing for my mom were no longer there, and I could think of my mom without crumbling under the weight of the grief. I could tell a story about her without stopping to catch my breath - I actually WANTED to talk about her. I was no longer avoiding the pain of her death, I was celebrating the joy of her life. At some point, without even realizing it, I had gone through the grieving process and come out the other side. Alive.
In the throes of real, unbearable heartache it feels as if we will never be able to heal. But you do. In “A Grief Observed” C.S. Lewis compares the death of a loved one to an amputation. You survive, but your life will be forever changed, forever different. This metaphor is perhaps the best I have ever heard to explain what this feels like. She’s gone. I’m here. Life is different.
There are occasional waves of unexpected sadness, and moments of pain so sharp they take your breath away, but I have found a kind of peace with her death that I never dreamed I would. I continue to heal and talk of the most incredible woman I had the good fortune of knowing and being loved by.