The beginning of the holiday season slammed me full force with unexpected grief and today, I'm still gathering myself. Somehow, since that time, I have felt my mother's absense more deeply. She has not once escaped my daily, and sometimes hourly thoughts, but it became more than that. Perhaps it was the young man I began to counsel around that time whose brother had just been killed or the countdown of the year anniversary (March 2nd) of her passing slimming down or a less than fruitful Christmas experience with her brother's family that threw me into this tailspin, but I haven't gotten out of it. I miss her. And it feels like I'm just beginning to climb out of the shock phase, like I'm beginning to look around for the first time and finally realize (after almost 11 months) that she will never be in this place again. She's gone. For all of our differences, she was a best friend. We spoke everyday about everything, no holds barred and now, she's gone. A piece of me is just...gone.
A few weeks ago, just before I put G to bed, I picked him up and brought him to the top of our stairs. From that vantage point, you can see some water from the straits and on a clear night, the moon. I pointed out the full yellow moon over the water and how it put a golden sheen of light on the straits below and G whispered, "that's Grandma Vicki's light." I couldn't respond. I merely nodded. Now, we speak about my Mom every now and then, but how a 3-year-old would come to think of that, even a creative one like him, is beyond me. But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps she is gone from here, but not gone altogether. It's just adult minds are too cluttered, too 'logical' to see what can't be seen. I'd like to think that.
I remember sitting on the back porch of my Mom's care home with her a few months before she passed away. We were talking about the inevitable-her death, an elephant we had denied the existance of in almost every conversation we had since she entered hospice care. My Mom was a master at skirting the issue on anything unpleasant, but for one moment, we were able to talk plainly. We looked out at the back of a historic Victorian when she made it clear that she did not want to be buried. She wanted her ashes to stay with me wherever I went. I wondered out loud, "how will I know where to find you then?" to which she said, "I'll be everywhere."
She was right. She is everywhere, for me. I just wished I had something more tangible, someone to hold onto. I constantly look up into the night sky and search for the feeling of her, listen to the wind and try to hear her in it, but wherever I go, the only place that resonates her presence is my mind. And my mind can't seem to get that she's gone yet. 11 months later and I still make mental notes to tell my Mom about a new pair of boots I got or something funny G said and then, I am reminded. I can tell it to a journal or speak into the wind, as if she might hear, but it's not the same. This place I live in will never be the same.
"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die!