These three days

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Today is the still day, the day I hold my breath and try to fathom how seven years could have passed since my mother died. I vividly recall trying to catch my breath after hearing the news at 7:00 am, swinging my legs over the side of my bed and letting myself sob while the call was still active. The poor woman on the other end of the phone was so lovely and she let me cry until I was able to pull myself together. The hours that followed were a blur. They were filled with emotional embraces with my brother and his family, endless phone calls and the inevitable trip to the funeral home. Many days it feels like it happened yesterday. Today is one of those days.

Tomorrow is the bridge day, the day I allow myself the time to rest and let the well of emotion refill before I have to dip into it again. These three days are saturated with a blend of melancholy and tears, but they are also filled with a joy that is hard to describe as my family and I share the stories that will always make us laugh and still feel loved by those we have lost.

The following day is another serene day. It is the calendar day my father passed away fifteen years ago. Regardless of the weather, March always comes in like a lion for me. And although it is the month I came into this world many years ago, the beginning of March will always be stained with a sadness I am unable to remove. Two of the most important people in my life were taken away, and these three days in the month of March always deliver a swift punch to my gut.

As I recover from the annual blow, I will remember how much I was loved. I will fall back on the memories of their laughter and the fun we used to have. And I will take solace in the fact they would be overwhelmingly proud of me for pursuing my dream to have a published novel, with more on the way. Their smiles will be the light in these three days.

It doesn’t really get easier with time

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I read a post on Facebook today from a friend of mine who is at the one year anniversary of his father’s passing.  I would like to tell him that it gets easier with time, but I can’t.  So many people offer those words as an attempt to comfort those who have lost a loved one.  Since I have lost both of my parents, and many other loved ones for that matter, I am well versed at saying ‘thank you, I hope so’ when those words were spoken to me.

But I have learned a great truth about loss.  It doesn’t get easier.  The pain of loss is never really assuaged by time.  The polite phrase spoken by so many holds a great sentiment but very little truth.

What I have learned, however, is that the pain is slowly muted by the memories.  That pain still burns like a lingering flame, concealed far below the surface, and it can be turned into a raging inferno with a single spark.  But that pain is much less visceral than it once was and shouldering their absence seems much more bearable.

With each passing year I recognize a growing trend in my patterns.  Habits that I picked up subconsciously from those loved ones who are gone seem to emerge inexplicably but they are familiar and comforting traits.  Idioms used by my dad tumble out of my mouth before I even have a chance to realize what I am saying.  My arm in the window of my car as I drive, elbow on the bottom and only two fingers hooked in the top, is exactly how my mother used to position herself driving up to the cottage when we were young.

It doesn’t make the loss any easier but it is those little things that make us know that their life lives on through our lives.  We get to keep some of the best parts of them alive because mimicking their characteristics keeps their spirit close.  The pain will always reside in us as proof that the love we had for them was fierce.  It doesn’t get easier,  it just gets manageable.

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