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I'm Not Alright
Making sense of a world without Mom
I’m not alright.
But it’s unclear if that’s the goal.
Tears don't arrive as often anymore, but they’re welcome when they do. I have a fondness for the pain as it keeps me tied to her.
Grief feels like a new forum, which means I’m fortunate and vulnerable. Like the uncalloused skin of a novice athlete, I’d prefer my heart be layered with protection, but imagine that such tough tissue is hard-earned.
Her bones rest in a hand-crafted wooden box that consumes with its beauty, shocks with its stillness. When the reminder of her absence tempts me to scream I squash it with a low groan.
I don’t believe in fairness. I don’t suspect that life isn’t random or occurs due to reason. Yet it feels unfair that we’re expected to do this without her indefinitely.
“Oh fuck!” She used to say when she knew that no words would do.
Mom is gone and things will never again be the way that I adored.
The pain is understandable, yet the hurt sneaks and creeps.
Settled into the background waiting for fresh moments to strike.
The fond memory of a track race stirs traces of adrenaline mixed with fumes of excitement, then tips me into a crevasse of sadness after my mind refinds her beautiful face cheering in the crowd. Grief now intertwined with happiness, my memories no longer lay as flat as they once did.
Her absence frames our relation to loneliness.
We fight it.
We manage it.
We balance between the desire to stand out and the need to feel ensconced in love.
Mom’s essence offered us the notion that we were safe enough to venture. People yearned for that grounding, were addicted to her blend of exciting safety.
And she gave it to me freely.
With her as my Mom I never felt alone. My heart always held a place in her safe harbor.
“You lost your mom. Move on. You’ll be fine.” My harshest impulse insists.
But my fear is not that I won’t be fine. My terror is that I will, within a world where I’ll never again feel whole.
Without her smile.
Never again able to access her foulmouthed form of tenderness. A caring “Fuck You” reassured me that no matter how flawed a day felt, together we had enough.
It’s not that I won’t be fine.
Fine fine fine fine. Fuck fine.
My bone-chilling fear is facing each day afraid that the most I can hope for is fine.
I cherish the memory of my friend’s face crumpling. How after imparting the news of Mom’s death her body emitted a deep refusal. How she shrank, in an instant, reduced in stature and into tears. I revisit her reaction to reconnect to the honest agony of Mom’s absence. Replaying her pain transports me to the potent truth of how bad this feels. Rewatching her learning that our lives had now forever forked into a future without Mom’s bright light is heartbreaking and grounding.
And so, the sadness smolders. Because we cannot go back, and the way forward feels frigid.
The only solace that I’ve found is my inheritance of something unexpected. Though Mom bestowed on me many things, the grandest may be that the weight she once carried now falls to me. Even as a loving mother and grandmother, she was still a mourning daughter. In both moments of happiness and sadness, she would sometimes remark, “I miss my mom.”
That was her greatest strength, the ability to shine brightly without fearing shadows. Her warmth encompassed current, past, and future memories, cherishing cold truths with warm love.
Her willingness to smile while recounting trauma, to celebrate while acknowledging pain, reminds me that future beauty won’t be flawless.
And her happiness.
Our fortune wasn’t that she was perfect, it was that despite her shortcomings she was strong enough to reflect all of her light onto us. If she could then maybe we can as well.
“How are you?” has been an impossible question to answer since her heart stopped. Any response feels relatively terrible compared to when she was here. Yet, as time passes I’m growing to understand that if there is a glimmer amid the sadness of her absence it’s an invitation to the next chapter of my life.
I must start something new because the thought of continuing on with my old life without her is too painful. I realize it’s made up, but the only option for moving forward that I can fathom is to embrace it. To focus on constructing a new chapter that keeps her in my heart while aiming to embody the love that she proved was possible. Whether I am able to realize it or not, her example of vibrant honesty is the plane to which I aspire to step.
Though the future still feels cold, my heart is slowly beginning to thaw.
Aiming to enter this new era any better than alright demands anchoring myself not only to the pain of her memory but also toward a future spent celebrating the power of her love.
Mom, I love you from the bottom of my heart.
I always will.