Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Next Day

Common wisdom says the mileposts of grieving are the big days, the first Thanksgiving, Christmas or birthday without your loved one. My sister and brothers and I have passed all of these in the first three and a half months.

What I've learned, though, is that grief is a wayward thing. It sneaks up on me when I'm waiting for a Metro train or rummaging through a drawer to find an emery board.

It's there in the earrings Mom brought me back from Ireland in 1998 or any of her sweaters I couldn't bear to give away. I bury my nose in them sometime, inhale the faint odor that was her closet.

Mom was a dignified person, alone in her being. She was not big on hugging. My deep connection to her was expressed in words and deeds. But I miss her now in a physical way. 

It's the riddle of the ages, the riddle of corporeality. What we love of a person is so often the mind, the spirit. But it's a spirit that must exist in the flesh, in a body that moves in this world. Which is why, in the end, it's the worn wallet or tattered address book that brings us to tears.

(Mom with her sisters and brother; she's second from the right.)


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