The Grief Comes
in Waves

Our mom ca. 1962. 26-years-old.

I think it’s safe to say that my relationship with our mother was complicated. She wasn’t easy. By the time I had settled into the life of an adult (which took me longer than most people), we had settled into a mostly peaceful routine with each other – but I think that has less to do with maturity on my part than the fact that they moved up to Sacramento to be near my sister and her growing family. So she wasn’t a day-to-day presence in my life.

There was some degree of comfort in knowing that she and my dad were up there and had each other (as well as my sister and her kids). And with her passing in December, our family is trying to adjust to what my dad keeps calling “our new reality.” Obviously, for him it is an adjustment he struggles with every day. And because Linda is the one who is there, the loss of our mom has greatly impacted her life, too.

But for me, the loss manifests itself more subtly, I think. The grief comes in waves, usually triggered by a thought of something that reminds me she’s gone: A TV show she liked. An idiotic remark by a politician (Donald Trump has been a regular fountain of these). And of course, a holiday or special occasion.

Because our mom died suddenly in December and we went through the winter holidays in a state of shock, Passover was the first holiday where we really felt her loss. It hit me about a week before, while I was driving to a doctor’s appointment. I arrived there feeling weepy – which led the doctor to write a note that I needed to be monitored for depression. I told her I wasn’t depressed – I was merely having a bad day. And as it turned out, our actual Passover seder wasn’t sad. Mama was missed – but the holiday was good.

Today I’m bracing myself for another round of tears. For the last several years, I commemorated Mother’s Day by sending my mom flowers and this year, I realized I didn’t have anyone to send them to. I briefly thought about ordering some for my sister, but then I concluded that she would just find that weird. And then I thought about buying them for myself – but one of the reasons I like sending flowers is that it’s the kind of thing that people appreciate, but never do for themselves. So this year, no flowers. And today I feel sad.

I expect I’ll be back on an even keel when Mother’s Day is over. I have to: I’m seeing that doctor again on Wednesday.

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