My youngest son began taking steps a few weeks ago. Since the moment he discovered these steps, each day has been a challenge. He wants to zoom across the room with a ferocious tenacity, but he simply crumbles to the ground after just a few steps. One day, my son took his first step after I screamed, “Come on! You can do it!”
I cheered, I jumped up, I clapped, and then I whisked my cell phone off the counter to call my mother. I realized quickly that I couldn’t make the call and tears raged down my cheeks knowing that the one person I wanted to share this moment with just could not be a part of it.
It has been three years since her death, and I feel the pain of losing her more each day when I thought the pain would lessen. There are many things people say to you when you lose someone and one is that “time heals.” Time is passing and the wounds are still raw.
I remember the wake and funeral and people showing up in swarms. They were moving while I was standing still and every moment of those days seemed to be one hazy dream (or nightmare). I had tall piles of cards, endless emails and texts, and enough penne vodka to last me until my own funeral.
As the services ended, I watched people pack up and move on with their lives. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I remember being at a red light leaving the funeral and turning my head to see a woman talking to the others in her car. She was smiling and laughing and I wondered when I would be able to do that.
In the past three years, I spent a lot of time putting my happy face on for others, especially my children. I wanted them to have a happy mommy and a brave mommy. Trying to smile that hard through the pain while forcing myself to be the intrepid leader of the house was simply exhausting. People around me may have mistaken my visible strength as a sign of tackling grief and overcoming it.
The truth is, even after 3 years, I’m still figuring out how to pick myself back up and push on. I often find myself asking my husband when I will stop feeling the pain of losing my mother. Neither of us have been able to find the answer.
It is now when I need people most. I can’t tell you exactly what I need from them, but I just need them. I know that others may not know what to say after this many years or they may not want to muster up any feelings they believe I may have suppressed. Sometimes, I wish I would open up my inbox to 6,472 emails that tell me I’m going to be okay or open my door to have a friend waiting there with a hot chocolate in hand. Maybe I just want people to be around so time can move just a bit faster, because after all, I’m just passing time and waiting for it to, you know, heal.
I admire my son for his determination after each fall, whether I am able to tell my mother about it or not. He takes those wobbly steps and as he crashes to the ground, he takes my hand to get himself back up again with even more strength than he had the moment before. Maybe that’s what I need from people these days, a hand that can get me back up and force me to build up the courage to have the same grit as my son. And maybe I, too, can have more strength than I had just a moment ago and if I listen hard enough, I may hear someone whisper, “Come on. You can do it.”