You know, memorable days are not always happy days. It's easy to forget that. The first day of school, riding a two wheeler for the first time, the arrival of siblings, holidays, birthdays, vacations, a wedding day, the births of your own children, their first days of school, and the cycle begins again. Those are memorable days alright, and we hold them close in our hearts.
Some memorable days are not so happy, but we hold them no less closely in our hearts. Those days, the sad days, the gray and grieving days, those are the days that shape us, far more so than those happy days we love so much.
Something changes within us as we sit in the dark by our mother's bed. We listen to her breathing, acutely aware that there is an end to those breaths, and that the end is drawing close. Everything else fades and only one thing becomes important. "I love you, Mom," and the answer comes in the dark, "I love you, too."
That's it, really. That's what it comes down to.
Her children will come together, in their own separateness, to sit in pews, and our grief will be our own.
I will hear once again, the familiar echoing of the words from The Book of Common Prayer, and those words will remind of other times of grieving, when I sat in a pew reciting those self same words. I will remember other people gone on ahead. A 54 year old woman will look around the church and remember what it was like to sit there as a sixteen year old.
My mother's ashes will be placed next to my father's ashes, a private ceremony for her family alone.
And then it is done.
It feels as if the world should stop, just even for a moment, but of course it will not. There is school, and that is something that I'd be terrified to fall behind in. I feel as if I am barely keeping up, and if I fall behind, well, I'm not sure that I could catch up. And there's work. I can't not work, because there are bills that come in, regardless of what's going on in life. There's a myriad of things that need doing, things that don't stop needing to be done because I'm grieving, and so just like that, that life changing moment becomes the past. It is an end, but because it is not my end, nothing slows down for me.
I suppose that it is good that it is like that. I don't know. Life goes on, and that sounds trite, but it's a fact, and you realize the profundity of those words at a time like this. You have no choice but to continue on.
I will continue on, but not this night. This night, I will sit listening to the thunder rumbling off in the distance, and I will ponder memories even more distant than that. I will remember what it was like to be my mother's child. I travel to where I have not been in years, places that I am not sure even exist anymore. This night, I travel though time, and make stops here and there in my childhood, stopping to savor blackberries from long ago summers, hearing voices that are no more, seeing faces before they are grown old. I smile at some memories, cry at others. I make my peace with what I can't understand. My thoughts wander, and outside, it begins to rain, and, somehow, that seems only right.
Debby Hornburg lives in Scandia, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog can be found at lifesfunnylikethat.blogspot.com