Sunday, 14 December 2014

When Grief Has Been Lurking

My mother died two years ago.

I still never consider that fact full on. Even now, typing the words, I'm still looking at the event out of the corner of my mind's eye. I don't know if there will ever be a day when I can say those words out loud and not internally look away from the fact of them, falsely flippant, skipping along without considering their real meaning: my mother died two years ago.

Today my older sister and I cleared out her old bedroom. The clothes didn't smell like her at all; they'd been hanging there, untouched, since 2012. Still, I could see her in them, smiling, coming into my bedroom unannounced to ask what I thought of her outfit.
"No one in church even fanned me.'
She used to say 'fan' to mean 'pay a compliment'. Or, more often,
"Ah, Timehin, they really fanned me today o. Emi gan, mo wo'ra mi, mo ri pe mo fine gan!"
She was so beautiful. And she made me laugh. Lord, how she made me laugh...

I found a picture of her when she was pregnant with me, and I almost, almost, came out of my mental hiding to confront the fact that I was clearing out her things from her old bedroom because she didn't live in it anymore. Her little notes on the mirror haven't been touched in over two years. No one has crossed that threshold at 9pm to ask why she's lying in the dark, worrying, in over two years. She hasn't asked me to help her figure out 'this new thing that they've done with my email!' in over two years.
But when you have to keep breathing after all your air is gone, you can't really take the time to consider how you're doing it. You just do it.

"Mummy. I have all this grief. All this confusion and wondering and growing-up-without-you that you left me with. My hands are full of it and my arms ache from it and Lord knows my heart is tired of the exertion of keeping on keeping on.
Tell me what to do with it, ma'ami. I need to lay it down. I need to lay down and rest and have you remind me that I will be okay.
I miss you so much that it almost forces me to stop and ask myself why.
But I can't.
That would mean having to deal with the reason you only ever smile back at me from pictures.
The reason why I haven't listened eagerly for your footsteps down the hall in forever.
The reason I'm crying right now.
The fact that you're gone, permanently, forever.
I have so many questions, ma'ami..."

It's been two years and I still don't know how to deal with it. So I won't. Not tonight. But my heart is heavy with the longing for the memory of her smell on those clothes, her arms in those jackets, holding me or preening for me or trying on my overlarge sunglasses and laughing at her reflection with me...

I just keep breathing. Maybe one day.

1 comment: