The first time I ever experienced excruciating loss was at the age of 22 when I lost my maternal grandmother to ovarian cancer. The next time was at 32 when I lost the man, I thought I would create memories with him for the rest of our lives. Having experienced such losses I’ve learned that healing is not linear. And the smallest act can trigger a slew of inconsolable emotions.
When my grandmother passed, I was immobilized with anger before begrudgingly accepting it. How could someone which such pure intentions be taken away in such a horrible way? Logically I knew that death meant that she was no longer in pain, but I selfishly wanted her physical presence.
She was my earthly God.
She was home.
A safe harbor, and a constant source of encouragement.
I don’t ever recall hearing the words I love you from her, but I will always remember feeling loved by her. Maybe it was in the way she ensured all my needs were met, maybe it was in the way she spoke to me, maybe it was in the way she, unbeknownst to me, guided me in the ways of the world. Maybe it was in the way she protected me. All I know is I was loved deeply by her.
In the weeks after she transitioned, I remember looking around me and seeing smiling faces and thinking how dare they be happy when my Mama had passed. How dare life goes on while I struggle to adjust to this new norm! My world stopped and the world was supposed to grieve with me dammit. I was angry and resentful. Neither were emotions I had ever seen Mama display. But there I was stewing in them as I grapple with ways to move on.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t think about her and miss her to this day. Over time the pain of my memories has eased and started to make me smile. Whenever I smell breading being baked, I think of her and smile. Whenever there is a birth in my family, I think of how excited she would have been to see her family grow. Whenever I find myself being tempted to publicly address private matters, I remember her words, “Gal what you give to the world you can never get it back” and I stand down.
Losing Mama made me appreciate the people in my life a lot more. I don’t ignore my mother’s calls; I try to chit-chat with my dad. I catch up with my siblings as much as possible, and some days conversation verve beyond the façade and into the deep and meaningful. My door, bed (I’m single), and heart are opened to my children always. I cherish the few friendships I have. They’ve stood the test of time and have encouraged me when and where needed and I hope I’ve done the same for them.
No relationship is perfect but they’re all worth making the effort to bloom.