My mother died – though, as a victim of Alzheimer’s, she had been lost for months already. I felt some relief at the news of her death and her release from a confused and isolating suffering.
And then, I felt nothing – a numbness to this sharp finality – my usual protective defense. I went to work. I even laughed a bit. I felt like I was hiding something that everyone could see. But no one said anything, of course, and I was comforted by the veil of normalcy to my day.
In the night, however, old unshaped fears gripped me : and I lay awake wondering how to grieve for the loss of a mother I never really felt I had. This was a grief I had already carried my whole life; only now there was a literal loss as well and a layer of unspoken public expectation about how I should feel.
I pondered the future state of my fractured relationships with siblings. I played out my immediate interactions – the funeral – on a cranky movie reel in my head and shuddered at the idea of mourning with them. In fact, by dawn, I had decided I could not attend the funeral and could not continue to try desperately to mend broken family bonds with the freakshow that was my biological lot in life. I didn’t have articulate reasons and I didn’t care. Could not was going to be enough for me now, no matter what kind of criticism might come with that.
That long night : all the anxieties of my entire childhood lay in bed with me all through the dark, twisting up around my neck in a chokehold and somehow – for once – I didn’t even really have words to form properly around my thoughts and emotions. Just a big fog of s c a r e d
But I woke up like I always do and I got ready for the day, like I always do. Except in the final minutes of the night, I had resolved not to let myself be numb to it – even though it was frightening and left me wordless. I wanted to accept it and let it go – if for no other reason than to get some rest for the next chapter of my life.