Monday, September 16, 2013

wearing the inside out

last week Thursday marked six months since Mum died. i read an article recently about how people manage life after bereavement, which stated that many of us only truly become an adult on the day a parent dies. i can relate to this statement, adding a further condition; that we only know true love when we see someone we care for pass away.

many people experience the love of a partner, the love for and from a child and even the devotion of a pet, but it's the self sacrificing love of a parent that can put all this into perspective. i was the last one to see Mum before she died, and i still feel deeply how much she cared when she sent me home to rest after an exhausting day, refusing my offer to stay with her that night. looking back i think she knew she wasn't going to last the night, she was in so much pain that she slipped away in the early hours.

Mum's favourite

we are told to be brave, to look to the living, to get back to work and normal life as soon as possible, that it's not wise to indulge in grief. "she's gone to a better place", "she's no longer in pain", "you still have your Dad", "you have your faith", all these comments are true and they come from well meaning intentions but when the funeral is over and everyone goes home, what are you left with? an empty place at the table, an absent grandmother at your childrens birthday parties, a missing confidante who knows you so well but loves you anyway. you don't just get over this.

i followed the conventional wisdom of getting back into a busy life as soon as possible but found myself thinking of Mum every morning when i woke up, waking in the middle of the night remembering her pain and feeling overwhelmed by life. i knew something had to change. i thought about Mum and her choices in life. she always wanted to be near her father, rummaging in his shed, going fishing and tinkering with tools. she didn't want to follow convention and since i've spent some time with Dad, i've learnt that she was pretty headstrong about it!

another favourite

so now i've thrown caution to the wind, rejecting everyone's expectations of what i should do with my life. you only get one, right? why should i study a boring career because i'm good at it? who says i can't make my living from what i love? do i really need all this stuff to be happy? do i have to live in my home town all my life? i'm not alone in questioning my life, some of my siblings are having the same crisis. i suppose it's a growing up thing, but it's very cathartic.

i hope to keep Mum's legacy alive with my choices and i think she would be proud of me for making them. i won't stop grieving her in six months, six years or even sixty, but it's my grief and i'll cry if i want to...