Today is December 1st 2010. Today is also the day that a new person will be moving into Apt.301 371 Lakeshore Road West, my mother’s apartment. It feels weird to think that 40 years of living have drawn to a close in that little apartment. It’s where I grew up and it’s where my mother found her peace. It’s like the mecca of our family. The fulcrum, the centre. It’s where I can lie on the green leather couch that fits me perfectly and relaxes me. It’s where I watch Dancing with the Stars with mom, it’s where we have a glass of wine, where we laugh and have serious life talks and nothing talks. It’s where we irritate each other, where we laugh and where we cry. For all of us that apartment represents something different but for me it’s what I have always called home. Home is where my mother is. It’s where we watched over each other as we grew up and it’s where I watched my mother grow older. You never know when you start a journey where or when it’s going to end. Life offers no end point until you’re living it.
Grief I’ve decided works in weird ways. Each stage you pass through is like a super nova. It creeps up on you. You’ll never call it a stage or recognize it as a stage but suddenly it grabs you like a wall of fire, like a shooting star, like a super nova. It holds you tight and you feel loss like you’ve never felt it before in your life. And shock and more shock and sadness, anger, grief, and the endless shock that runs like a single narrative through these luminescent balls of fire. And then all of a sudden you feel normal and you find yourself laughing spontaneously, your guilt is unchecked until it comes back to remind you that you’ve lost your centre, your mother, your home.
Those moments of normality are so incongruent with the emotional trajectory of grief and loss.First you can”t believe that the world is marching on. Doesn’t everyone know you’ve just lost your mother? And then it becomes less of that and more your own embrace of normality that makes you feel a bit like a traitor. Don’t you know you just lost mom?
The hardest journey is from being able to embrace real life flesh and blood that you can hold and hug to having nothing but a few things and a lifetime of memories. The memory of a home, of all my mom’s special things, her clothes, the way she had this just so. It feels cruel to dispense with these things that meant so much to someone and now mean so much to me. Dismantling a home feels like dismantling a life. Is this really all that’s left of this home? Just these things? I know that my mom is so much more than just things.
Today is the close of one chapter in the life of Apt 301 and the beginning of another one. Life without Rosie has truly begun. Finding my way home now is no longer getting on an airplane and making my way to Rosie at Apt 301. The crazy explosions of emotion that have engulfed me these last few months are subsiding and when I think of my mom I think of a spark, a star, a super nova and I’ll find my way back through the lifetime of great memories she has given me. I love you mom.
7 responses to “Conversations with my mother: How Grief is Like a Super Nova”
I just lost my mother on Tuesday, November 9th and the grief and sorrow make one feel so intensely “odd”…it’s the only way I can explain it. One day is good, the next not so good and feelings and memories come flying out of nowhere. Hopefully Rosie and Doris are sitting together on a big cloud somewhere and watching over us…and laughing, laughing, laughing (as both our Moms loved to do!)…
Wow, that was beautiful. Of course, I didn’t know her like you and the family did, but Rosie was always one of my very, very favorite people. I have fond memories of her going back forty years! She was truly one of a kind.
The passing of a loved one is so deeply felt. It changes us.
The flame of life is followed by the ethereal, the sacred, the beautiful mementos that remain after death.
Your relationship with Rosie continues. XOV
I so enjoyed reading this even though it made me feel painfully sad for you and everyone who has been down that road. I will never totally get over the experience of going through all my moms belongings very soon after she died. It was too painful for my Dad to have her things around so there was not even time to reflect on the memories attached to all her treasures … collected over a lifetime and so meticulously cared for. Mark and I put everything into large green bags … just like garbage. Since that day I buy fewer ‘things’ and keep very few ‘treasures’ because I never want anyone to have to do that for me.
This was one of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of writing I’ve read in a long long time. I lost an old friend recently and this just adds an even more helpful perspective on it all. You’re also helping me to remember to appreciate the moments I have with both of my own parents. Thanks for sharing and a big hug out to you.
What a beautiful entry. I have just applied to move onto the 3rd floor of this building. Your story makes me feel like I have made the right choice.. and that this home will be special.
Some of your thoughts remind me of this video/poem I created out of my grandmother’s home… maybe you’ll like to watch it:
Hey Amber Lee,
Wow, what a coincidence. Are you moving in to Apt. 301? My mom lived there for 40 years and loved it. I hope the Cheswood brings you the same happiness! Loved your video by the way. Thanks for sharing.