Friday, May 15, 2015

It's not the big things

"But it is not these big holidays that make his loss hard for me, it’s really not. He was good at big things but he was best at the small things, at making me feel seen and heard and understood, remembering all of the things that made me Nora and loving me in spite of and because of them."

- Find the rest of Nora's awesome words about her husband, Aaron, here 

Nora gets it.

I crashed a little before Easter. I was given some assignment or another, went back to my office to make some edits and then just stared at my back office wall and felt the grief come in a wave. I closed my door, silently cursing the tiny window that looks into the hallway, and turned away from it, letting the quiet sobs rack my body. In between sobs I called my friend C who was in an airport in Moscow, trying to cram an overpriced sandwich in her mouth before boarding the plane to Armenia. 

"You got this girl. Fuck, I should have called you sooner. Easter, Passover, shit, I should've known this weekend was going to be hard on you."
"*I* didn't know they'd be hard! I was fine. It just happened!"

Of course, you're always fine until you're not. And thanks to C, just as quickly as it descended on me, it was over. I pulled myself together, collected the paper someone had slipped under the door (seriously? You can't wait 15 fucking minutes? Okay, then.), made the edits and went on with my day. 

I had been silently dreading Easter for a while, until that point. I was convinced it was going to be a shitty reminder of a holiday I don't care for (don't like ham or scalloped potatoes, not religious, can take or leave milk chocolate or jelly beans) that was only kept going because of the people I'd lost. The human brain is so weird. For years I groaned as my mom made us dress up, go to Church, eat a dinner I didn't like, all while taking up chunks of an otherwise perfectly nice long weekend. It occurred to me then that there was no one to make me do that any longer. I am what I always longed to be - an adult. And while I wouldn't go so far as to say I wish someone was ordering me into a poofy dress and shoving a plate of milky taters my way, I missed it, sort of. I was really struck at how the loss her and my grandparents has led to my own forced autonomy. 

The day itself turned out to be okay, uneventful, calm, and with TB's parents out of town, very lowkey and family-free. Passover fell on Good Friday, so I did that instead, singing the songs, eating the food and reading the words that connected me to my father's history instead. Easter Sunday was spent with Netflix and discount peanut butter cups, and while I couldn't get the nagging feeling out of my head that I should have been doing something, in retrospect, my only wish is that I'd spent less time worrying about it in the first place.

This was my thought process going into Mother's Day. Of all the tough days I had planned for after my mom died this one was, punnily, the mothership. A day meant for worshiping moms and all they've done for you. For many of my fellow 30-somethings, this meant a day to thank their moms as grandmothers, posting charming multi-generational photos of their happy, intact families. Torture for the unmothered, in other words. But I decided to take my therapist's advice and just face the day as it came, no concrete plans, no expectations, just as-is. 

And it was okay. Really. My sister, dad and I went to a plant sale together, where we bought seeds and flowers and raspberry bushes from a bunch of nice, if slightly odd, plant folk. We went to brunch, where we miraculously found a spot at once of my favourite breakfast places. Even surrounded by mothers and their kids, it was okay. We toasted her with excellent cups of coffee and mimosas, ate so much other patrons stared and talked about nothing of consequence. My father bought me a bouquet of flowers just because, and we went to my place and barbecued a chicken with a beer can up its ass, then polished off a bottle of wine. I stayed off of social media for the most part, which was a good move. And I didn't cry, not once. Mostly because, as Nora says, the big days, the holidays, the missed events, aren't always the monuments to sadness you think they'll be. Instead, it's in the small, silent moments - the fastening of a necklace, the curled up leaf of a lily, the death of a beloved celebrity - that you realize she's gone, and you wish she wasn't. 

Happy Mother's Day, mom.

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