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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

6 months later...reflections on the loss of my mother

6 months ago today, in the early morning, I sat with my mother, along with my father and siblings, as she drew her last breath and was still and at peace. She was 64 and lost her battle with cancer.

One would think 6 months should be enough time to at least to grasp the concept of loss. But it hasn't been for me, not really. It hits me periodically, like fresh news, "my mother is dead."

In 6 months I have learned that life continues to move on, doesn't really even slow down, when a loved one passes. I have learned that I am strong enough to keep showing up for my life, my family, my work and commitments, despite my grief. I never knew that about myself before. 

I have learned that I am part of a brotherhood and sisterhood of children who have lost their parents while both they and we are relatively young. It is a group of beautiful, compassionate people, but I wish I didn't count myself among their numbers.

In the moments surrounding her death, at times I stood outside myself and observed what beautiful people my father and siblings are.

I saw my father step into a place of beauty, strength, grace, and acceptance during the last days and hours of my mother's, his wife of 41 years', life. He, who had been in denial about her passing up until the last day, moved gracefully into a place of supporting her through this final transition, supporting each of us children through our intense grief, and handling the details of laying her to rest with honor. I think I have always been subtly aware of my father's quiet strength and dignity, but never the rich beauty of him, until now.

I saw my nearest brother in a place of sweetness and tenderness as he sat with and cared for my mother during her final weeks, days, moments. I have known my brother as fun, jovial, irreverent, intelligent, a bit scathing at times, but I not as this incredibly gentle soul.

I saw my baby brother, the one whose diapers I changed, who also wore my clothes when he was a toddler, move from a place of anger and denial to love, acceptance and sweetness with her. I saw him grow up before my eyes.

I saw my little sister, whose diapers I also changed, who used to paint our faces liberally with makeup, care for our mother tirelessly, with a grace, calmness and compassion that I can only aspire too at almost twice her age.
Perhaps my mother, who's love was always such a strong and clear presence in our lives, perhaps her final gift to us was step back and to give us to each other. 

I have learned much over these months, but mostly what I know is that I still want my mommy back.