I’d like to resurrect the year of wearing black.
In fact, so many of the old mourning rituals seem wise to me right now. Cards, flowers and food brought us the most comfort during the funeral. Without knowledge or planning, we sat shiva for the week after her death. And we found that hugs and somber faces are the best sort of greeting.
But now, when I lie in bed with sobs crushing my throat because I’m trying not to cry out loud, to wake Erik or frighten the kids or lose control once again; when I sit in a group of people and try to pretend that I’m OK; when someone asks, “How’s your mom? I heard she was sick?” and I have to tell them that she died last month, I’d like to have a black dress or an armband or some talisman to hold my pain.
And maybe we need a signal for, “I’ve just had a miscarriage; please don’t ask when I’m going to have another baby.” or “My son is suffering with bipolar disorder; please don’t make crazy-people jokes.”
Or maybe we just continue to treat people gently, ‘handle with care.’
I don’t feel sorry for myself, and I don’t blame people for not being aware of my mother’s death– it’s impossible to keep track of the lives of everyone around us. But I find it interesting, in an almost scholarly way, that whenever I say, “My mother died.” it feels like a literal punch in the gut, and that I don’t want to listen to the radio or my iPod anymore, that I can’t seem to concentrate and that I really, truly want to sleep 12 hours of every day.
Acquaintances ask first about my trip to Europe. And while it was beautiful and healing and wonderful in every way (and Benny-boy, I promise I will write about it and post photos after I’ve penned 50 thank-you notes and finished the photo shoots from last April), talking about Europe feels like discussing the fire engine when your house has just burned down. I want to talk about my mother. About how young she looked when she died, about her white nightgown with slim pink ribbons and the way she reached for heaven. I want to show you her earrings that I’m wearing today, to ponder her rose garden and to bake her bran muffins. Grief is a kind companion; it gives me new eyes for the beauty around me.
My dad is mourning by keeping himself fantastically distracted. I don’t think he stays in the same place for more than 4 nights in a row. He’s flying back and forth between Salt Lake and San Diego as he moves out of his San Diego condo and into my sister’s house. Last week he took Hans and this week Stefan, with him for company. He’s honest, “I don’t want to be alone and I need help right now.”
I too, am grateful for the distractions. My summer camp of six keep my hopping all day long and, deep breath, I was just called as the Young Women’s President of my ward. My Mormon friends are laughing out loud right now, because they know that YW President is a BIG job. A grown-up job. I regard it as privilege and a pleasure and pray that I don’t mess it up.
And so, I’m glad to have rich, full days and for the lessons my mother taught me to make it a better, kinder life, but I also want to cry every day; to grieve.