A wave of sorrow hit me yesterday unexpectedly, but I have come to recognize grief when it knocks on my heart’s door. I’m not sure if I can say grief is my friend, but I am getting acquainted with the daily visits and finding they are a pressure release…if I don’t slam the door. Grieving those who are still alive is a unique kind of sorrow. They are here, but not. Gone, but present. This kind of grief has to change and adapt daily. Some days are better and some days, when you are shopping and see something your loved one would love but realize they would no longer be interested, it hits you hard. The differences and changes steal your breath with their intensity.
I was in Highlands, strolling from shop to shop with my coworkers on my way to a work retreat. We went into a shop that is one of my favorites, also, one of Mom’s favorites. Everything in there looked like something she would love. I found a beautiful Christmas vase with crackled glass and a snow-covered pinecone on the front. I could imagine a white pillar candle lit inside it to create a stunning centerpiece on a table. I checked the price and decided I had to get it for her. But then I remembered…Mom isn’t Mom anymore. At least, not in the things she engages with. I put the past back on the shelf and moved along to the present with a knot in my stomach.
In another store we used to frequent, I went to the kids’ section and looked at the preschool toys. I found some little dolls, like paper dolls only they are magnetic. I put them on the counter to purchase and tucked them into my shopping bag to carry to the car. I don’t know if she will like them or not, we don’t know until we try these days, but it is something for her to open. The contrast was stark between what she used to be and what she is now. The heavy blanket of grief followed me from shop to shop. I kept throwing it off, only for it to settle around me again in a different pattern. I finally had to sit and give it a moment.
I think that’s the thing I am learning. Make space for it. Acknowledge that things are not the same, and that they won’t be. The acceptance part is where I wrestle. One minute I am good, and the next I am sitting crying on a bench. The street reminds me so much of Mom is hard to walk down, and that’s okay. The shops she frequented are no longer important to her, and that’s okay. The stuff she used to love has changed, and that’s okay.
But, with her changes I am forced to change as well. Just like when your kids move on to a new stage of life whether you are ready or not, now I am at the other end of the spectrum. Mom is moving on to a new stage of life…the last stage, whether I am ready or not. The tears that come are my heart preparing for it and wrestling to accept it…and that’s okay.