16 May 2013

I grieve because I love...

One of the most complicated relationships between humans is the mother-child relationship, and if I'm being wholly honest, the mother-daughter relationship must rank among one of the most complex. We place on our daughters unfulfilled expectations, complex issues that we ourselves wish that we understood better. We worry about how they will be treated, how they will fare without us. We worry if we did enough. We worry when they bleed. We worry when they arrive too soon at bleeding and how do we teach them that delicate balance between being a woman and holding onto their childhood. We want them to be like us and nothing at all like us. We want them to be strong. We want them to understand their weaknesses. We want them to find careers that they love. We want them to love being a mother as much as we do. We want everything for them and nothing at all but what they themselves believe to be love and truth.

We worry.

And so when a daughter dies before all of this happens, then the mother wanders in a desert without direction.

There are so many firsts that never happen, so many seconds and thirds. There are no first kisses to worry about. There are no tampons to buy. There is no hair to braid. There are no late night conversations into the night about what in the world the boy-toy band One Direction might actually be announcing.

There is in all of this the pull of the umbilical cord, the line that first connected mother to child that is still there in the invisible dark and the tug is ever present.

Add to that mix a complicated relationship with your own mother (okay, let's be honest what mother-daughter relationship isn't complicated) and then you mix in guilt and frustration and confusing and panic into all the rest.

Yes, yes, there are other children. Yes, yes there is another daughter. But this missing daughter, the one who fails to show up for the pictures so that you notice the distinct space--head and shoulders between the youngest and the middle child. Why does this picture look still unfinished? Yes, the picture always looks unfinished, as if something has been erased, someone is absent.

Recently someone implied that I spend a lot of time writing about the absent child and not so much about the present children.

I am sure that many others are thinking this same thing. I am sure the unspoken thoughts of many would cut immeasurably into a grieving mother's heart. You know who you are.

But here is the thing. My other children, the ones I see every day, the ones I speak to every day, the ones I hug and kiss and talk to and have conversations with, they are fully present human beings, engaged in their lives, their own lives and don't necessarily want me talking or writing much about them. They are living the lives that they are designing with us by their side. They have voices and speak a similar language as the rest of us. They are alive. Did I mention that?

But this silent one, I'm her only voice, I'm the only one who can keep her voice fresh and present. And believe me, her presence is immutable. I can pretend to forgot (oh, but who would?) I can place her in the recesses of my mind, but that does nothing except bring her closer to the forefront of my mind.

This silent one? She is ever-present. She speaks in ways that I am willing to share bits and pieces of because she cannot do it for herself. Other bits and pieces I cling to on my own in the dark.

"(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands." -ee cummings

...not even the rain...


I do not pretend to have any answers or any wisdom around the right way to grieve.

For me, I grieve the only way I can: Wholly present and honestly. I grieve because I have no other choice.

I grieve because I love.

And I wouldn't give up my love for anything.

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