The coach in me assigned myself a year of reflection that I chose to do on the 21st each month. The assignment happened organically. I started writing monthly and then I committed to the structure as part of my own development as a person. In a way, because I am old enough and practical, I wanted to also learn how to grieve.
Yesterday felt like a year to me. From Tuesday to Tuesday in the 3rd week of March. But by the calendar today marks a year anniversary of our mother's passing.
Why was the acceptance process so important?
When I finally begun to comprehend the diagnosis and my mother’s choices in 2009, I would have been reckless in my approach to my emotions and even grieving. It was through my realization and reconciliation with the diagnosis that I came to terms with being reckless was all that I knew. But, sometime in the early fall of 2009, I realized that our mother wasn’t dead yet, nor was the world ending, and to quote the unforgettable Hyo herself “Well, enough now. Life goes on.” She was living and I was a hot mess.
A process for grieving.
A Year of Living, by Stephen Levine could not have entered my life at a better time. It was offered to us as extra reading in our coach’s library. Boy, that unassuming slender paperback took me the whole summer to get through. It was about choosing how to live through the last year of life with your loved ones. Hot mess was not the only way!
Although there are many, many things that come to the surface as I imagine they will continue to from time to time, there is one that still baffles me.
Mummy never took her stuff with her.
I know it sounds funny but my mother in my experience treasured the sweetness and the relationships in her life through her writing, books and reading, and the things she had “worked hard for in this life.” So although she had said innumerable times, beginning in the 80’s, that “she’d never seen a hearse pulling a U-haul.” A statement in itself that coupled with her laughter could get the whole family to fall out, teeth outside, teary with belly laughs, I still kind of thought she would have taken some of her most precious things somehow.
Her stuff actually helped a couple of weeks ago upon my first visit back home since her passing. Getting reacquainted with what was left behind in the way that my sister and Dad have tastefully integrated those things into life was good. My sister In Toronto is slowly purging and had a large box of laundered and folded clothes ready for pick up by a local charity. Hyo herself would have said “Girl or my child or Deeeeleeyah, life goes on.”
It’s an odd thing death. It makes no sense and then it makes all the sense in the world if there is suffering.
God blessed me with this forum for conversation and for commitment.
Thank you so much for being a part of all that was shared. It is clearest to me now that we always love our departed ones, they always live, and the choice for them to live on or not is part of our own experience.
I miss my old mother and all of her younger selves that I knew. In our Guyanese lingo, like I hearin’ she(her) now, "Life Goes On."
P.S. Thanks to Cheryl Reyes for her animated representation of an older HG, Hyo, Mummy, Cynthie, and Hyacinth Grenville.
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