The last time Jonah and I visited my great aunt together we had her and my great uncle record some of their thoughts about their family. We did it as a way to preserve some of our genealogy because once my great uncle and aunt are gone, the memories they still have about my ancestors will be gone, too.
As my aunt was talking about her mom (my great-great grandmother), she got wistful about her, and my uncle got teary-eyed as he talked about my his brother (my dad's father).
As I have been dealing with my own grief regarding Mom, I've realized something: this grief is never going to go away. Not entirely, at least.
There has literally not been a single day since Mom died that I haven't thought about her. Everything reminds me of her. And I miss her terribly.
A friend wrote on Facebook: "...putting these things into
words is an essential part of the healing process. David Lindsay Abaire
says it well in 'Rabbit Hole,' when a parent grieving the loss of her
son asks her mother if the feeling of loss - of grief - ever goes away,
and the mother replies (I paraphrase) - no, not really . . . It gets
better, even diminishes, but it's like a rock you carry in your pocket,
and some times you stick your hand in your pocket and your pocket and
you're suddenly reminded, 'oh, hello. . . you're still there.' It
takes time - a lot of time - but time, though it does not heal
everything, does help."
I'm always going to have this rock in my pocket. That's not a bad thing, but I think of my aunt and uncle weeping for people they lost years and years ago; I think of Dad's mom who lived in sorrow for years after her husband died, so much that she almost became debilitated by it; I think of a friend who will never be able to get over losing her child to an accident-related death. And I realize I will never get over losing my dear mother. And there's no reason I should.
I certainly have not allowed her death to cause me to stop living my life, and as I've stated before, I feel her presence with me often, which is nice. But she is ever in my thoughts, and some days I feel such a longing to have her here with me.
I am glad we didn't have to watch her keep disappearing. I'm glad she never forgot who I was. I'm glad I didn't have to watch her physically waste away. I'm glad I didn't have to watch her go confusedly go through dialysis with an amputated leg, which is what would have happened had we chosen to keep her alive.
One thing I am always struck by was when I came back home to Utah knowing Mom would be dead within a week or so. She was so excited to see me and like a child, she had no idea she would be dead soon (frankly, I don't think she even understood why she was in the hospital at all). I don't think it was until we transferred her back to her assisted living residence that she finally understood what was happening. And I do think there was a point when Mom recognized that she was dying, and I believe those on the other side were helping her understand that. But that initial meeting when I knew she was dying, but she didn't, has always remained in my mind. She was just so happy to see me (and I her), but I knew we would be saying goodbye for a while in only a matter of days.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I didn't grieve so hard when my dad died as I have with my mom. I loved him very much; he was a great father, and I do miss him. But I have to admit that Mom's death has been harder on me than his was. But then Mom and I always had more in common than Dad and I did. Dad liked sports and fishing and country music and wasn't very talkative, none of which I related to. Mom loved movies and theatre and we had great talks, not to mention 21 years more together to cultivate a relationship than Dad and I had. I also was, as my family says, "the golden child" to Mom and was her primary caretaker for several of the last years of her life. Even after her death, I have been knee-deep in her journals and photos and financial and legal affairs. She is ever present.
Dad died while I was on my mission, and his death almost felt surreal. I was nowhere near him when he died. I didn't watch him die like I did with Mom. I was on the other side of the earth and felt somewhat removed from his death. In fact, coming home from my mission it almost felt like Dad hadn't existed at all. When I left for my mission, he was still home. When I came back he was gone.
I can't really explain it. I miss hearing Mom's voice. I miss holding her hand and hugging her and kissing her. I miss her childlike dementia just as much as a miss the level-headed woman I grew up with. I miss eating meals with her and going to the theatre with her. I miss playing games with her and talking with her.
I know pain will lessen with time, but I also know I'll always have this rock in my pocket until Mom and I are reunited once again. And maybe Mom will again repeat the second to the last thing I ever heard her say: "I knew you did it right."