It’s a tough thing, to go on without a mom. I know I’m lucky though, that I had her in my daily life within these past few years. That’s more than what a lot of families have when time and space take the flock and spray them across the world, like balloons catching air.
I still look for her when I go to her house. Expect to hear her call out to me from her bedroom, in her sing-songy voice. Damn, her bathroom still smells like her, as if she’d just stepped out of the shower. I’ve cleaned the fridge, finding food I made for her, and the stupidest question rises in me: didn’t she like it?
I’m emotionally drained. Even though she’d been unwell for a long time, you can never ever prepare for losing a loved one. Each day you have with someone who is sick is a gift, and it brings hope that with one good day there will be more. Those days don’t come anymore.
There is an undeniable void in my life. I try different things to fill that gaping hole, but the effort is exhausting. Why haven’t I collapsed from the weight of loss? I crash at night, but sleep is not within reach, instead hijacked by vivid, active, dark dreams. I wake each morning grateful for daybreak but wary of the emptiness before me.
Being without her is off-putting. I keep thinking I’m forgetting something, as though I’ve left my purse at the grocery store check-out counter. Mornings were all about her. Making appointments. Cleaning. Cooking. Paying bills. Feeding her dog. Medicating her. Medicating her dog. Errands. Arguments. Chats. Hugs and kisses.
Now my mornings are open and free. I could be using the time to write, market, work. Instead, I still go to her house and putter around. A part of me thinks she’s still in the hospital, and I’m waiting for her to come home. It doesn’t feel like she’s truly gone. It doesn’t feel like I’m on my own.
I’m over 40 years old, so technically I’ve been on my own for a while. But I had a mom then, and I don’t have a mom now. It’s different.
I will always wish for one more conversation. One more time to tell her she looks pretty or that I love her or that she really doesn’t need another pair of cowboy boots. Instead, I talk to the space around me, believe that she’s there, listening. I still ask her questions, voice my wonder and curiosity and frustration over choices she’d made.
Everyone tells me it gets easier, which I guess is likely because our own lives must go on. But, I wonder, do I want easy? Does easy mean forgetting? Does easy mean settling?
I look at middle age and old age in a new way now. I see what can happen when we give up, when we stray from our hopes and dreams. I don’t like the way that looks. Death has a way of knocking you upside the head and telling you to straighten your shit out, today.
And I’m listening.
Life is a beautiful gift, but it can rough us up too. There are obvious paths to follow, or we can bushwack our way to our goals. It’s a choice. Always a choice.
Just because things aren’t panning out the way you wanted doesn’t mean you ought to go easily.