Friday, October 13, 2006


(This is has been edited. The original will be read tonight, at a private service in my home.)

What is it to grieve? Am I grieving? What does grief look like?

Walter told me my wanting my old job back was a call from a little girl, I want my Mommy! I think he’s right. I wanted security and safety. Something familiar. The swirl of uncertainty is intense. I have no idea how my family will look. Dreams of mended fences, of acknowledgment, of love are gone. She’s dead. The hope can no longer live inside me. It’s in an urn I placed in its niche last week. Ashes. Nothing more.

Every day, I have little moments of recognition, like when I was wearing jeans at a meeting with the funeral director. I am no longer breaking the rules. The rules no longer exist. It has profound meaning to me. I keep coming against old walls my mother placed around me and now they are doors. I marvel at the new appearance. Choices without my mother’s judgment to stop me. I hear her voice and think of the urn. It’s over.

A part of me may be calling out for my mommy but I cannot cling to the brief moment of kindness. I wish I could. I wish I could remember her touching my face and comforting me and erase the rest.

I did that too many times. Over and over again, I would work to maintain my relationship with her, putting up with humiliation and emotional drain while looking for that brief moment. To have my face touched gently and the golden light of approval I didn’t know how to give myself would fill me. I am prone to this kind of relationship where I invest so much of myself for so little in return. I am amazed by it’s pull.

Am I grieving when I talk to my sister on the phone and laugh hysterically about moments in our childhoods that were not funny, not even remotely funny, and as the laughter dies down we both wipe tears from our eyes and say, thank god it’s over.

Am I grieving when I resolve never again to have anyone hold so much power over me, to have my self-esteem wrapped up in someone who cannot see beyond the mirror in front of them? Because I don’t feel that in a solemn way. I feel that in a rageful way. With fury and conviction. Never again. I don’t miss my mother in that moment. Again, I think of the urn. It’s over.

Can I say there were wonderful moments with my mother? Yes. We could talk about politics and books and art endlessly. My mother could tell stories for hours. In her last few days, while unconscious, my sister in law said she was mmm hmmm-ing and saying hello, as if she was on the telephone. My mother could talk on the phone more than me. She was elegant and graceful. She had beautiful hands.

But those were moments long past. And in each one, in each golden ray of light I felt from her, there was always pain. It was never pure. It was never simple. She never once said I love you without it being about her, her need to be acknowledged back, her need to be soothed that she was, in fact, a loving mother.

She did love me. As much as she could, she loved me. And more than I ever should have left my heart open, I loved her. We loved each other fiercely. With fury and anger and hate and wounded pride. It is not a love I ever want to have again.

It is a love that is now ashes. In an urn I placed in its niche last week.

It’s over.


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