I used to fantasize about having the perfect vacation or an impeccable wardrobe. Or maybe, I would write the next Harry Potter series. All things that were possible. No matter how small the chance of it happening.
Lately, I’m sad to report, my fantasies have one common theme in that they will never come true no matter what I do. I can’t work towards it. I can’t manifest it. I can’t use a wish or a magic bean on it. There is a zero percent chance. Because what I fantasize about is my mom being alive.
Sometimes it is around what it would be like to get a phone call from her. To hear utterly infectious laughter. Of her asking me what’s new. Mundane questions around how the job is going or what Roy is up to. Or even darker still, I imagine what it would be like to call her and tell her she is expecting her first grandchild. To start planning her trip out to stay with us. Putting a mental list of foods I would want her to make me when I saw her. To stand in the kitchen with her and actually commit her delicious recipes to memory. I try to reconstruct the softness of her hands or the concentration she would put into putting on her lipstick. And sometimes, just sometimes, I will bury my face in the sweater I took from her closet just to imagine her warm embrace.
But unlike happy, dreamlike fantasies, I am living in a nightmare that will never end where I suddenly am the girl with no mother. There are tears and the loss of my breath. My body twists and lurches into the fetal position without my brain telling it to. The grotesque and gapping hole that I’ve tried in vain to stitch back together completely tears apart and explodes at the seams. Not to say that anything has been repaired or that I am even close to whole. No, I will never be whole again. The day my mom died, is the day I forever lost a piece of who I am. That’s what happens when you love someone so intensely, so unconditionally. I try to embrace the grief for what it is. A weird, messed up badge of honor for how much I love her. And I tell myself things like, if I didn’t love her this much, it wouldn’t hurt like this.
As I write this, you can imagine, the tears are steadily falling down my face. It feels destructive and cathartic at the same time. Sometimes I try to mask my grief with busy hands and endless to-do lists. Only to have the grief find me again in the quiet stillness. It feels odd meeting it head on. It hasn’t been that long since she’s been gone, but the grief has changed. I remember the time where it was all that I was. I sought out others who had experienced this level of grief, of losing a parent, a mother. I poured over their stories. Whether it was an essay or a few short lines written as an Instagram caption, it felt reassuring to me that after weeks, months and even years, that these people were still broken. Not because I wanted them to hurt, but it gave me a sense of relief that it was okay to miss her with such a fierce intensity.
So, this is dedicated to those people that shared their stories that I so hungrily consumed. In some weird and possible unintended way, you are part of my healing. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, we have something in common for always. This is also dedicated to those who have just recently lost someone. Of course, I would not wish this on anyone, but it’s the truth of the world. It is hard. You might think that you will never smile or laugh again. That the thought of such lightness makes you feel sick with guilt. But, it will be less hard. No, you will never be better. But it will be less hard.