Today is another sad day. The sun is shining, a glorious day. But my heart, my heart is a black jagged rock. Lifeless, sick. I am exhausted. I loathe the exhaustion. I loathe the process of mourning. I am motherless and I loathe that even more.
When I was pregnant with my first DD, I would scour books to find out what being a mother entailed, and I would look for stories on what it was like. I had this “need to know” desire to know what to expect. People, usually moms, would see me and smile. “You know,” they would say, “nothing can prepare you for motherhood. It is something you just have to experience.” In my naivite, I did not believe them. I continued to pour over those books. Of course, when the day finally came for my DD to arrive, the penny dropped and I knew exactly what those people meant.
I believe the same can be said for losing a mother. I used to nurse, so I have seen a lot of death and witnessed a lot of loss. I have seen people lose friends, siblings, relatives, parents and children. I have seen people have lingering illnesses that ravaged their bodies until they died, and I have seen people die suddenly, with no warning. I have watched as family and friends reacted to both scenarios with varying degrees of grief and relief.
Then, to add to my schooling on loss, when I was 25, my first husband, died in a scuba diving accident. He left me and our 16 month old daughter behind. He had been my high school sweetheart and my best friend. Despite us not having the most harmonious marriage, I felt the loss greatly and knew, at that very moment, that life would never be the same again.
Fifteen years after that loss, with my nursing career over, a new husband and another child in tow, I imagined that I had graduated quite well from the school of loss and felt that I probably would not have to go back to that school for quite some time – say, in another 20 years or so. I also felt that when that time came, having already lived through so much loss, having experienced it professionally and personally, I would be ready and would cope with it not only well, but with aplomb. I was wrong.
Nothing and no-one can prepare a daughter for the loss of her mother. I am sure that losing a mother for a son is equally painful, but since I am not male, I can only speak from my own female experience. It sucks. Big Time! With the passing of my husband, I found that time was indeed the great healer that old wise men say it is. In time, I allowed myself to be open to new opportunities and eventually to love and, yes, live again. I thought on my first husband with fondness and love, but I loved my new (and current) husband in a totally different way. And I knew that this was not only okay, but right.
Not so, with losing a mother. Far from being my friend, I am finding time is my enemy. With each new day (and it has been 105 days since her death), I find living life increasingly difficult. As time passes, images of her last day of life haunt me. I find myself screaming out inside my mind, wishing I had said and done so much more with her before she passed. I try frantically to remember the sound of her voice, the feel of her touch and I lament the fact that she is no longer here to help me make sense of a world I have always found a challenge. I feel like a young fledgling that has been forced to leave the nest, to make its own way in the world, but I am the one who clings on to that nest for dear life, begging not to be made to go.
My heart cries out for a face I will never see in the flesh again, for experiences I will never get to share. I long for advice on my children that only a mother can give, based on that mutual sense of knowing. I feel so alone. I brim constantly under the threat of sobs, my heart physically aches. I sit in a house that needs a mother’s attention – unable to move, no longer able to care. My own children are bewildered, unable to understand the loss I am experiencing. How can they until they themselves walk this path? I want to cry out at the thought of this pain that they may one day be forced to suffer.
How is it possible to move past this mire? Time is no friend, that is for sure. With each day, I am reminded time and again that my mother is gone forever. Never again will I be able to phone her just to say hi, or that I am having a bad day, a good day or that one of the children drove me round the bend today. Never again will I hear her excitement at her achievements, and have her delight in mine. Never again will I be able to wander ALL day around the shops, chattering constantly, buying nothing, because neither of us have money, but going home feeling like it has been the best day ever. Never again will my husband say “What on earth do you two find to talk about ALL day?” How could he understand that mothers and daughters always have lots to say to each other?
I wander when the hole in the soul gets filled. I wander when my own life starts to take on meaning of its own, knowing that the thread that bound me to my mother, has been severed, never to be repaired. How do you reconcile that? How does a daughter reconcile that the woman who gave her life, who taught her everything she knows about being a woman, wife and mother, who is so inextricably linked to who you are and are likely to ever be, is gone, forever.
I feel like a rudderless ship, sailing in a squall filled ocean, unable to see my way clear of where I am headed, being tossed about this way and that, constantly feeling sea-sick to boot. I am unable to help my ship mates or those around me because it is all I can do to hold on myself. I feel like rain is pelting my face, stinging, and I am wondering when, if ever, the storm will pass. My logic, of course, says to me it will. I will eventually pass through the storm; no longer will the rain be pelting my face, and slowly, I will be able to emerge, standing on my own two feet, strong enough to provide some sort of assistance to those around me. But I suspect that my rudder will be irreparable. I will no doubt have to replace it with an invention of my own, but I somehow feel that it won’t be the same, as good or as efficient, as the original.
Until then, I guess it is just a matter of riding the storm of loss, where time is no friend, and the ocean is vast. Such is a motherless daughter’s lot.