I don’t even know who I’m talking to right now but this seemed as good a place as any to try and make sense of what I’m feeling.
I was prepared for it. Prepared for it in a very practical sense. Three hours before she died, I washed my dress for her funeral. It was this horribly formal, almost insensitive but necessary chore. I felt myself turning on the washing machine, but I felt nothing else.
When I found out she had passed, I cried. That seems like a very normal response to such an event, except I don’t usually cry when I’m grieving. I usually sit numbly trying to encourage my brain to feel. And then if I do cry, it’s because I’ve made myself cry. This time, though, it just happened. It felt as natural as a child’s giggle. I sobbed for her, for her pain, for her immediate absence in my life, for her family. For my mother; her sister. For the fact that she was not just my aunt, but my guide. She was the relative that I most resemble, in every sense. I felt an affinity with her that I haven’t felt with anyone else in my family.
It’s shit that she’s gone. It’s shit that I can’t even begin to explain what a perfect person she was, even though she had flaws. It’s shit that I didn’t ever get to tell her how much she meant to me. It’s shit that my mother is in hell right now. It’s shit that I have to write about her in the past tense.
I feel a sense of guilt that I just have to keep on living and she’s just not here anymore. It doesn’t seem right. Sometimes I see a total stranger laughing and I just want to shake them and tell them that she died and that no one anywhere should be laughing. Then I remember how ridiculous I’m being and I get envious. I even envy a past version of myself; a version that never knew this feeling.
The worst part is, I left it far too late to get to know her. We didn’t have enough time. Maybe that has protected me somehow. My mother is in the worst pain I have ever seen anyone experience. I didn’t know grief could be so physical.
I have pushed people away because I haven’t felt worthy of pity. I didn’t want it. I felt like I had a bond with her, an affinity that I couldn’t explain, but there should have been more words…we should have exchanged more words. And then there’s her children. I wish I had been closer with them. I feel useless, like I can’t help them. I can’t help them, because I don’t know how to.
Death is a certainty for us all. But it’s easier to accept my own inevitable demise than that of someone I love. And that’s a great thing. That’s a wonderful thing…that we come to love people so much that it’s the most simultaneously beautiful and terrifying thing to experience.
And that’s what I hold on to, in the darkest of times. I hold on to the fact that grief comes from love. It comes from the deepest, most enduring love.