Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Quietus made

My mother is no longer alive. She is dead. She is gone. I’ve said that her absence is glaring, and that’s true. In some ways, we’ve filled in the hole that she left, but nothing has replaced her. It’s just that the everyone around her has collapsed into that space. It’s still empty, but it’s empty somewhere else. Empty inside us instead of around us.

It’s the converse of digging in the sand. Hannah and I spent hours on the beach last summer. We moved sand. It went nowhere in particular. Every time I dug into that wet grit and scooped out a fistful, more slid in. The hole got deeper, but the process was slow. For what I removed from that space, the hole should have been narrow and deep. Instead, it was wide. It was shaped like a disc. You couldn’t miss it for the world.

That was my mother. When she was first gone, it was big and wide. Everyone could see the hole she left. Now, that hole is so far inside me that no one can see it. It’s a sneaky hole. I never forget my mother, but I forget about that hole. I fall in it too often. Lately, I’ve been stuck.

I expected to see her or hear her or feel her. I expected my imagination to make her appear. I expected her to appear in mind or in spirit, but at this point, any kind of fabrication would do. She’s not supposed to be so gone. She’s not supposed to have just stopped existing. Her body is 200 miles away, and I’m afraid that that’s all. There have been promises made to me that are not being kept. Some of them were made by you—you, the person who is reading this. Some of them were made by people who will never read this. Some were made by those who are gone and aren’t coming back.

I have two choices. I can accept that my faith means nothing, that I’ve been lied to by my friends, my family, my church, and myself, that there’s nothing in the universe but atoms and molecules and the cells they create. Or I can accept that my mother abandoned me.

I’m still going to church, still praying, and I’m thinking about joining the choir again. I still have my faith.


At 4:30 PM, Blogger portia said...

I continue to pray for you and your family, and I'm so very sorry. I find that I think about you, and what I know of your mother through you, quite often.

I know that my father feels something similar to what you're describing about the loss of his parents, who both died in January but years ago, and apart. He's talked about wanting to hear something that never came. But *I* hear them, and see them, in my head, and so I know they're not as gone as he feels them to be. Then again, the hole they left in me is nowhere near as deep as the one left in him.

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

emlin, this is bad for you. I know what you feel about her not 'reaching' you in some way. how can the one who would never leave you, actually leave? it's too huge. when my mum was alive I felt her all the time, even when she lived in Africa and I in england. But now she's gone I don't feel her at all and it is devastating. I don't know what I believe (god, spirituality etc) but I thought I would see or feel her in some way, great or small, but it hasn't happened... Or at least not how I expected. I find myself having an internal arguement with her "How could you leave us like this, don't you love us, why did you let yourself die???" and all these questions hang in the air, no reply offered. I guess we will work out the answers for ourselves in time. I hope so. But it is good that you keep trying with your faith. It may provide the right answers in time or soeme comfort at least.
I have a crystal in my bedroom, the other day it fragmented the sunlight through the window with lots of tiny rainbows all over the walls. when I first saw them (they appeared suddenly) I said "hello" because for a split second I believed it was mum or that she had sent me some beautiful rainbows. It comforted me for a while. So maybe she is reaching me...?
You are doing well. I read your blog all the time it helps me. Thank you for writing.

PS: I'm sorry if I upset you with my last email about my mum. I realise now that you didn't need to hear all that shit. I wasn't thinking. Sorry.

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Emilin,

Just wanted to say that things do get better - I think I have some understanding of how you're feeling now, having been in a similar situation myself, and I wish you all the strength in the world, and the knowledge that you *will* be able to think about your mum without feeling miserable - it just takes time.

Sorry I'm anonymous - no blogger account!




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