There have been so many griefs this past year, public and private, almost no one I know has not been touched by it in some way, yet we don’t talk about, even work hard to repress this very universal and crucial process.
I woke yesterday to step out of bed into what felt like a wall of water, as if I might simply fall through the floor and drown, my chest crushing in against my lungs and heart. What was happening to me and why now? And I recalled this was the day last year my mother first told me she’d been coughing up blood for months.
The echoes of that conversation rippled through my body from my subconscious heralding the end of performing for the holidays and a return to grieving. Not a choice, but my body and soul gripping the back of my head and saying, you will begin the next part of this process, the walk forward through last year’s whirlwind days of hospitals and acute care, of holding your mother’s hand, of reading to her, of wishing this were not so, of running down halls for doctors, of taking notes feverishly until you snapped the pen in your ferocious grip, of the fear in all of your loved ones’ eyes as they tried to reckon with the unreckonable: What else can we do? How can we save her? How, how, how is this possible? The anger, the terror, the final moments when we had to let her go, and she sat in her bed saying, Why are you all leaving me in this hotel?, and closed her eyes, and never opened them again, though we sat with her another day until her body stopped because we loved her, we loved her, we loved her.
Today is a new year, but one without a woman we loved, and I walk into this year a woman without a mother, and I am not ashamed to say this: I am afraid. I miss her.
And I still rage against this, and it makes me fragile, and I know in this, I will find more humanity, more tenderness toward others, more patience because somewhere in their eyes every person harbors a grief as horrible as mine, whether they have experienced it or are yet to experience it.
All of us are siblings in grief.
Happy New Year? Today, I am breathing and grateful I could get out of bed without feeling the floor would dissolve beneath me, but if you see me, my heart, that beating muscle beneath my ribs, it is working hard right now, harder than it ever has, so please let me know how hard yours is working, too, and hopefully, the rhythm of these broken beating drums in our chests can sing together, everywhere, for the thrumming of this great going-on.