Monday, September 7, 2009

- Requiescat in Pace: Remembering Mom

My mom died on April 7, 2008, five months to the day before her fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. Today marks the fifty-sixth anniversary of their marriage on Labor Day in 1953 and my dad still grieves ... will always grieve.
It’s impossible to comprehend the depths to which the loss of a parent (or that of a spouse, child, or sibling) will send you until you experience it for yourself. Seventeen months after her death, I am just now accepting that Mom, my daughters’ Nana Ruth, is truly gone.

For the longest time I denied her passing, imagining her to be taking a nap or out at the store when I talked to Dad on the phone. Even when I went to Shelter Island to help sort through her clothes and her crafting supplies, I clung to the illusion that she was just out of sight in another room, unable to reconcile her absence from my life with my need for her.

A few days ago I finally brought myself to complete the linen bag that will hold her ashes. As I stitched the letters of her name and the dates that bounded her time with us in this world, I let go of my denial and accepted the reality, the finality of her death. And realized the wisdom of Kaddish, the Judaic mourner’s prayer repeated daily in the year following the death of a parent. For it is only with time that we can come to face that which we most want to deny.

The raw edge of grief has blurred. I no longer expect her to answer the phone, but I do hear her voice from time to time, its inflections escaping from my lips, especially when I’m talking to Meghan, Melissa, or Logan.

I sense her presence in other small signs … the ladybug that appeared in St. Mary’s on the day of her funeral and reappeared at the Outer Banks in the two summers since … rainbows … a break in the traffic as I merge onto a highway … stars shooting out of the Pleiades in the middle of August.

Those are not enough, of course. But a wise friend once reminded me to be thankful in all things, rather than for all things, as the scripture is more commonly rendered. The world still turns, each new day bringing grace if we have the will to see it. And that is sufficient to bring a measure of peace.