Friday, August 26, 2011

I remember the day my mother died, not because of the significance of losing a parent, but because of my reaction to it.

My mother had been sick seemingly my entire life. As far back as my memories go, all I see is this frail, pale woman with translucent skin and a soft voice. I know there were times when she wasn't sick, but even in those times, my memories are of a quiet, reflective woman. She was gentle with this easy air about her, not so much aloof, but more of a Devil-may-care freedom that allowed her to exist in a moment.

On the morning that she passed, I was in school when the voice over the intercom called me to the office. I looked at my teacher and said, "My mom just died." There was no way I could have known, but I did. After 11 years of watching and waiting for the inevitable, it had finally come. And I just knew it.

I never cried.

It was like business. I had lived it for so long, it was just another part of the process.

At the funeral, I felt out of place. All these people around me were crying. My father held my sister and I close, perhaps to comfort us, but I think it was more so we could comfort him. Although I knew I should cry, I couldn't.

It wasn't that I didn't care, or that I wasn't sad. In fact, quite the opposite. My mother and I had a bond I never shared with my father. Likewise, my father had a bond with my sister he never had with me. I was heartbroken. I was crushed. I was completely lost. And for that, at 11 years old, I shut down.

Nearly 30 years have gone by, and while there have been times along the way that a particular song or a milestone passes that reminds me of her and a tear forms, I've never fully grieved her loss.

I wonder how my son will handle my death. Will it crush him, or will he bury it inside and accept it as part of the deal we make with life. We only have a moment to be, and then it's gone.

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