There is no normal way to mourn. The process is non-linear and chaotic at best; it surfaces idiosyncrasies, and demands that we face our fears; it reminds us of life’s fragility.
As a grown woman who’s buried both of her parents, I am familiar with death and the out-of-control pain that accompanies loss. But in the spring of my thirteenth year, death was nothing more than a fuzzy idea safely studied in books and movies.
Adolescence is riddled with enough hormones to make life challenging without any additional assistance. But in that spring of 1993, I contended with the unexpected death of my father right along with my body’s rapidly morphing physiology.
My poor mother, bereft over her husband but wanting to be strong for her children, wore a permanent smile that unfortunately only grazed my bruised heart. To my teenaged-eye, my mother callously avoided any talk of my father and banished all pictures of him. It never occurred to me that a mere photograph or hearing her beloved’s name could evoke such pain.
It didn’t help that my mother began dating men a year after he died.
It didn’t help that I blamed my mother for my father’s death.
It didn’t help that my mother took my father’s life.
I am forty years old now—four years older than my mother was when she ended her husband’s life. I am no longer a teenager flooded with grief and anger, hell-bent on unleashing my unarticulated pain out on others. I know a thing or two about mourning now, and see that there is always more to a story than one limited perspective.
Forgiveness came for me in stages. It wasn’t until the end of her life that I finally understood. It took letting her go and watching the subsequent flat line on the EKG to see with my mother’s eyes.
If she were still here, I’d say thank you. Knowing everything now, I’d like to think I’d do the same for my children.