I was pretty confident that I had grieved through most of last year with Mom in the nursing home. I saw the Mom I knew become less of this world and preparing for the next. So when her death finally came, I felt a sense of relief, knowing that the hardest chapter of her life was over and she could go ahead and enter into the next.
Well, the grieving comes in waves, and just like tides of the ocean, it ebbs and flows. This week I received a note from my cousin, sharing memories of her aunt/my mom. Good memories. And the last sentence hit me. "I know you miss her like crazy." That sentence has stuck with me all this week and I have thought about it a good bit about how it hit me and what it means.
I do miss her like crazy, but I don't miss the last year of her life, where she really was not the Mom I knew. I became her Mom, as she became confused with the roles of who we were. I miss the times before then, the times we were able to enjoy doing things together, watching her enjoy life in her golden years. Seeing the twinkle in her eyes in the excitement of an anticipation of a trip, or going to church, or going out to eat. She loved living in this small town where people knew her by name, catered to her as she became less able to move around (though she fought it, she loved it at the same time). Those are the times I miss.
So life goes on, and one can't just decide to grieve and get it over with. It doesn't work that way. It comes at times we least suspect it and sometimes for no reason at all.
Acts of kindness touch me. I received a letter from one of Mom's doctors - her dermatologist. Handwritten even. A touch on the shoulder asking me if I am ok at school can bring on the tears. But most of all, these gestures of kindness show me how the simplest acts can be so meaningful. The friend who brought over some assorted teas --each time I make a cup of tea and choose from the wonderful hodgepodge, I am thankful for her kindness and gives me time to think about Mom, even it for a very brief moment.
For others, many have not lost a parent - they haven't traveled that road yet. They have not had a significant loss in their family. One day it will happen, and others will show them the way and carry them through the rough times.
I wonder about how I have had to deal with the grieving of my Mom compared to my Dad. I loved both dearly, but my reaction to my Dad's passing was different. I am guessing because Mom lived with us for about 5 years so I saw her daily and saw her decline, where Dad's death was sudden. Or could my grief by a culmination of the two, knowing that both of my parents are no longer with me? That I do not know, but it's a possibility.
Today at the Eucharistic Prayer, I watched as the bread and the wine was being blessed and the story of the Last Supper was told. I hear it Sunday after Sunday. Today it moved me to tears and by the time we got to the Lord's prayer, I started praying, but finally I had to stop as my tears were flowing and I could no longer continue the prayers. The beauty of the community of believers who carried on with the prayer, carrying me through the prayer with their voices until I could rejoin them later. Wet prayers, those were. Tears of thanksgiving, tears of grief, tears of the beauty of the Eucharist, and tears perhaps for others whose tears have yet to flow. Thanks be to God.