Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cool Breeze

My mother's death has thrown me off course more than I thought it would. Alzheimer's has been described as a long goodbye--which it is, only worse. Experienced as I had become with that long goodbye, I assumed the final goodbye would be something of a breeze. Yes, I felt deep sorrow during her dying and afterward, through the funeral, but then I whizzed into a period of really not feeling very much of anything at all about her. Very breezy indeed.

Now, though, the weight of her loss has followed me home. It tugs at me, rather like a dark shadow always hovering anxiously at my back--when I turn to see it, I can't, but I feel it; I know it is there. I spent most of my life in the dark shadow known as depression. This is different, somehow. Not a generalized despair but a specific sadness. As if it is not just I who am grieving, but also my mother. As if she is as surprised at her death as I am.

I was similarly astounded when my father died, some years ago. It is a big shock, to find that death has inserted itself between you and your parent. Not fair! we usually say--those of us, at any rate, who had good (if complicated) parents. But I know that soon enough death will also insert itself between me and life. A common enough realization, but rarely a comforting one. I suspect a cool breeze will soon spring up to distract me from that truth, too.

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