(Previously published on author’s blog)
I have been dreaming of boats.
White sails looking for a shoreline, nowhere to land.
My sleep is precious and petulant again.
I’ll sleep ten hours one night, then only two.
More than once this week, I’ve bolted upright, disoriented with panic in my own bed.
Even my subconscious knows I’m not where I expected to be.
I’ve been home exactly a week.
I spent two months. I touched everything she owned.
Now it’s less than a week to the anniversary of my mother’s death.
I woke just now from a nap in the sunlight at the end of a beautiful day and thought,
“I’ll just call her and ask what the sea looks like right now,”
As if that’s the view I have been missing.
365 days without her.
I know this to be true, but I still roll over to hug my husband each night and say, “I can’t believe she died.”
Whispering the word “died”, exhaling the tightness and tears held back during the daylight.
But really I can’t believe I have kept living all this while without her.
When I was pregnant with my second child, my now ten-year-old son, I had a somber, and sobering conversation with my husband about the deep sadness I felt for our soon to be short-changed infant.
I could not possibly love him the way I loved our first born daughter.
I was in tears. I knew this to be true.
And then he was born.
And I was born.
A brand new part oF me. A new branch of myself made just to cover this new little one in hot, wild, fierce, crazy love.
My mother had laughed away my fears. She’d had six babies after all. She knew.
We grow to hold the joy and the sorrow, I think.
Because when they die, we die for sure. Irrevocably shattering in the seconds between before and after.
But also we don’t die.
So maybe we grow. Because it’s necessary.
Because when you lose something you simply cannot live without, you have cover the defict somehow.
Simple emotional economics.
Mine happened in a parking lot in Braintree MA, when my husband confirmed my mother’s death over the phone.
And I have been growing into this living life without her ever since.
I’ve lost patience, but grown more decisive.
I’ve lost hustle, but grown emotional efficiency.
I lost some people, but love the ones I kept better.
Maybe I even love them more.
I wish she could have seen this — my shipwreck.
It’s the most comprehensive offering of love I’ve ever made.
Better than a clay pinch pot or a mother’s day bouquet of hydrangea and Casablanca Lillies.
When we say, “I don’t know how I would survive…”
It’s because we don’t yet know it’s the “I” that’s limitless, not the love.
We will grow what we need.
I grew these words.
Meghan Riordan Jarvis is a psychotherapist, author, wife, and mother of three. After losing both her parents within two years of each other she began Grief Is My Side Hustle. (www.griefismysidehustle.com).