thank you, i love you, i’m sorry, i forgive you

From March 2019.

This shit always happens to me at night. I wear her jewellery, her sweaters, her pajamas, her socks, her slippers. I’ve decided there is one sweater I’m just never going to wash so that it always smells like her. At night sometimes, I silently sift through photographs and the recipe cards written in her scrawling, perfect hand. Most of the tears come when I’m in the tub or driving in the car. I read through our last conversations, captured forever in my journal. Tears rise in my throat each time I remember that she will never come through my door again. It’s more often than you think. I sometimes hear her singing. I wish for her to show up in my dreams. I wish she could call me. I wish I was better at this. At sitting with this. I think about the very moment of her death. I relive every sound. I relive having to say: “Mom is gone.” Because those words are not like any other words. I’m scared I’ll forget what her voice sounded like. I drink tea from the cups she gave my grandma. She was a walking repository of buried treasure and I lament the many things I will never know now. I replay conversations, moments in time – some of them not our finest. We went through hell once. It’s taught me that guilt is a cancer that knows how to hide. I have so much work to do. I think about her soul. I think about all the places she’ll never go again. I miss her physical presence with a white-hot intensity. I pick things up in stores and think she would love this, or that. Or she would hate it. I hate being caught up in unexpected downers brought on by the ruthless furnace of grief. I feel guilty for stringing together good days sometimes. I’m frustrated that I can’t write. I want to write right straight into the emotional centre of things. Toward vulnerability. I feel compelled to tell the stories. I can’t be the only one. But I’m stuck in a spin cycle. Everything is covered in fog. I am clear about the things she taught me, most of them without ever knowing it. Courage is just fear walking. Time is just a school. We are the stories we tell ourselves. There is no real way to deal with everything we lose. We all survive much more than we think we can. We’re all at risk of something — the only difference is the size of the leap. Your unbecoming becomes you. Forgiveness, darling, is everything. Please forgive yourself. I remember the love. The fierce love. I remember the good times. How she loved to cook for people. How kind she was to my friends. How she did her parents’ laundry for years. How she’d fall asleep on the couch after supper when I was a kid. How she talked to dogs and the little kids. How she once drank too much Baby Duck. I remember how fragile she was sometimes. How much she believed in me. How desperately she tried to understand me. I admire her strength, her faith, her positivity, her heart. I’m grateful to her for unwittingly fostering those same things in me; I always find them when I need them. I’m thankful to her for teaching me that when you die, the energy that kept you alive filters into all the people you love, like a fire you’ve tended all your life. I feel it now. I tend it now, too. And, I’m happy for the lifetime we had. I’m sorry. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.

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