Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


This pain is a gift. I remember that nearly every minute of the day. She gave her love to me so freely that I had almost as much to give back. I do not kid myself that a child’s love for her parents can ever compete with her parents’ love for her. It is different. It is a kind of love that I do not quite know. My love for her comes initially from our familial relationship, but I love her for so many other things, including our friendship and our struggles to get to know one another. I admire her for her strength, for her courage, for her honesty, and for her devotion. I am in awe of the similarities of our bodies. This pain is as deep as this love, but not deeper than it.

This pain has meaning. I want to live without heartache, but nothing will come of that. Joy does not arrive in our lives risk-free. It comes with the promise that pain could be around the corner, and we accept the joy without reservation. No career or friendship or romance comes without the possibility of loss, but we take them on. And I have been graced with the joys of my mother’s love. This pain is how it feels to be truly human.

This pain will heal. I am not there yet, and I cannot say that I am truly convinced that it will happen. She will not meet my children. She will not see my marriage become legal. She will not be around to pester me in her old age. But her disease gave me time to say goodbye, reminded me that we share this world together, and allowed me to spend time with her. I did not have time to grow resentful of caring for her, but instead had time to engulf myself in this loss and vow to see her to her death. She saw me into this life, and I will see her out of it. This pain is surrounded by the love that she gave me, and that love will force me to survive.


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