I think the thing that has been most deceptive in this experience is my thought that I was understanding the permanence of the loss of my mom, when really I didn’t get it at all.
When a loved one dies and when you are as involved and as close as I was to my mom and her illness and death, it’s very easy to think that you understand what is happening, that you get how serious it all is, that you get the “big” in “the big picture.” But the thing is, you are operating so far outside of life’s norms up until that point that you really have no idea. I remember laughing a couple of times, quite gallows in style this humor was, when one of us would say, “Well, when things get back to normal…” Somewhere we knew that “normal” was going to take on a whole new meaning. And acknowledging it made us feel safe from the vastness of its reality. We all felt, I think, like we’d already encountered it and dealt with it. Which is just a sign of how naive at least I really was.
The thing is, immediately before and after a loss, you never get a chance to forget that it’s happening. When all you think about every single day and waking moment is about that person’s death, you never have a moment when you forget it all enough to be surprised and hurt by its reality. While it seems stark and awful at the time it really is a mercy in its way, this constant knowledge of loss.
But now, now as things take on the semblance of normal again, as I learn my life as it is now, things seem the same and I’m lulled into a sense of living in the normal “before”. As work has begun again, as my house has needed to be cleaned in earnest, as we have set about the day-to-day again, I have begun to forget at times that she is gone. I will be driving and think, “oh gosh I forgot to tell mom that…” I will wake up in the morning and in that lull between sleep and awake will think, “I wonder what mom is doing today — maybe she’ll have time for pancakes…” And then it sets in. That today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that and on and on until it’s my turn to go home, too, she really will not be here.
It is not eloquent, my description of how this makes me feel: It makes me lonely, and it hurts, and I really, really, really miss my mom. For our family right now, there is no more normal.