Yet another milestone today, on Halloween when the kids are excited about pumpkins and trick-or-treating, and my reflections on death are far more mournful. Five months, and a whole summer has passed since my mother’s death. Five months that seem the blink of an eye, time still frozen, yet containing enough sorrow and loss for a lifetime. My sister Tabitha wrote in a recent email, ‘I miss [mom] so bad, and the loss and length of time she is now gone for is unbearable. I think I was just “holding out” till she got back. And now she is not coming back. Ever again. That thought is only sinking in. And is horrifically big.’ I think this sums up some of why it seems to feel more painful then ever sometimes.
It is a deep relief to be in touch with a small handful of fellow mourners who feel very much as I do, reminding me that continued sorrow is normal, and the expression of it a vital honesty that is healing, and sharing, not selfish or self-indulgent. It is equally reassuring to hear this echoed in both of the bereavement books I have been reading. I feel so defensive at the moment, and I can feel how increasingly difficult it is becoming to speak or write of my sorrow. I am becoming more withdrawn and angry, as well as losing self-confidence. It is impossible to know how much of this comes directly from losing my mother, and what has been influenced (and how this has influenced my reaction to) subsequent events, many of which are far harder – or simply impossible – to articulate, or cannot be shared in a public forum. These things cannot be separated; they have become intermingled threads in an ongoing process.
I never let go of hope, or thankfulness. I have many wonderful things in my life I am deeply grateful for, including my amazing family, and the many years spent with my mother. It is important to hold on to this knowledge, but it doesn’t take away from the loss or pain, even though it makes them more bearable.
There is a chorus in a Suzanne Vega song called ‘Gypsy’ that has echoed ‘round and ‘round my head many times over the past months, making my voice catch with tears time and again and I softly whisper along:
“Oh, hold me like a baby
That will not fall asleep
Curl me up inside you
And let me hear you through the heat”
The soothing melody and rich voice, as much as the words, evoke within me a sense of generations of mothers before me rocking their babies to sleep, as my mother did me, and I have my children… an image of physical comfort that speaks to my earliest memories, and the depth of my loss.