My mom died
a year ago today.
So, how am I doing?
It’s weird being able to actually identify the worst day of your life and not have it be some distant abstract concept. Before November 15, 2012, I would have been hard-pressed to come up with anything concrete if you asked me to name such a date. Like everyone, I’d had bad days, but never before had I experienced one that literally changed my life forever so immediately without warning.
I got through it thanks to an outpouring of kindness from people I’d never even met in real life—who sent me emails, messages, drawings and pictures meant to help me realize that I wasn’t alone in this world. It occurred to me that this was probably the first time in my life when I actually had such a safety net to help catch me as I fell—even just a year earlier I probably would have plummeted alone to the cold hard ground.
Three months after it happened I wrote about how I was feeling. I felt fine. Strangely so. That is to say, I wasn’t consumed by grief or loss—I had not succumbed to the abyss.
I still had my moments though. Like when I decided to rewatch the Star Trek reboot in preparation for the then-upcoming summer sequel and completely lost it during the moment where Spock’s mother dies in front of his eyes. I think it may have taken a good 15 minutes for my wailing to cease. But even then my net was out there, because after I tweeted about this (I am clearly not shy about sharing such things) my friend Eva sent me this picture she drew to cheer me up.
I made her mail it to me so I could have it and always be reminded of other people’s kindness. Pretty sure she called me a weirdo.
What I couldn’t have expected when I wrote that post was how much my life would change for the better in the months that followed it. Having been fired from a tumultuous job the year before, I finally set my sights on finding serious employment—terrified that I would once again have to settle for a job that tried its best to break me every shift. Having been fired it was hard to shake the notion that I was tainted and no one else would want me.
Then I got the best job I’ve ever had with just the fourth resume I submitted.
38 years into this life and my protestations of adulthood now feel less like protests and more like declarations I can back up with facts. In the past year I have become more connected to the world than I ever have been before. I’m busy. I’m happy. I’m financially comfortable.
And I can’t tell my mom about any of it.
That’s the bitter I have to take with the sweet. My accomplishments are now my own and I cannot share them with the person who always believed in me and never lost faith that my future was filled with promise.
So, a year in and I am better than fine—I’m great. I’m giddy. I’m looking forward. But there will always be a touch of sadness lingering close to the surface—ready to be exposed every Mother’s Day or following each overheard mention of maternal affection.
But—in my case—sadness is not despair, but a temporary reminder of once was and cannot ever be again and I think I found the cure.