Life is a series of gains and losses for each of us. No one is immune to grief, and yet being in the middle of it can feel so isolating, as if no one has ever felt what you're feeling, and no one ever will. Sometimes that can be comforting in its own way, like wrapping up in the heft of a quilt and ducking our heads against the thunder and lightning of a summer storm. We peer out from our darkness, knowing that the storm will pass and yet feeling that this moment will last forever and ever, world without end.
Saying goodbye to my mother was like that. We told ourselves that we had lost her to the dementia and grieved her then, feeling her loss with the end of her senses and not the end of her life. In a sense I think there is a release when one comes to terms with the thought that the person who had been in that body doesn't inhabit it anymore, even while the shell yet breathes and moves. I took it too much for granted that I had said my goodbyes before, and I wonder if that made the final goodbye more difficult. There's really no comparison...just as each person is a unique loss to the world, each place in time is like a point in a river, never the same from moment to moment. Had I been older, had she been older, it could have been easier, or harder. These are the sort of thoughts that run through my mind at odd moments.
They've come more frequently lately, as the anniversary of her death approached. The weight of the loss is lessening, the lightning has ceased and the thunder only rumbles from time to time. Instead of hiding under the covers, I'm now peeking out the window at the clouds. I understand better why a year is a standard time of mourning...every holiday and anniversary has been survived, proof that life does go on. I'm promised that with more time, memories become sweeter and less tinged with sadness. I believe that's true, and I'm looking forward to reviewing many wonderful memories in the years to come. For today, mourning has broken.