Conversations with My Mother: A Year Later: An Exposition on Grief (video)

For my mom today. I still love that she thought her daughters could be  – should be movie stars.

A year ago today my mom died on an unimaginably beautiful autumn day. I started Conversations with my Mother as a way to capture her spirit and life and to share the ways in which she could surprise so many with her candour. Coming up to her first anniversary of not being with us I had thought that a fitting tribute to a woman who gave me so many words to laugh and play with would be to build her a beautiful word palace. A palace that would be a tribute not to life’s difficulties but to all its beauty and the ways she contributed to it.

Oddly though I started panicking this last week when the feeling of grief I became familiar with earlier this year seemed to have been replaced by a feeling of ‘non-missingness’maybe even of distance and coldness, like something maybe just wasn’t there any more.  Word palaces are hard to build on emptiness.

Then as late as two days ago I realized that when you (and by this I mean people in general) suffer loss, a new palate of emotion is created against which the rest of life now interacts. And I realized that the feeling of removal and of  emptiness is another function of grief. You cannot sustain hard grief forever.

Within this framework I’ve been able to understand my new-found inability to say goodbye to people – that when I start feeling that sense of loss I can’t stop. That I keep myself extremely busy because I don’t want to embrace the inexplicable difficulty of feeling it anymore – that my thoughts are still a little too crowded with the last weeks of my mom’s life and every single hard thing that comes with watching someone die of cancer – that more often now than not I’m able to  say “Ohmigod mom would think this was hilarious”-   like the feet that keep showing up on the coast of British Columbia, that Sarah Palin isn’t going to run for President – the Stanley Cup riots would have been food for thought and the hockey playoffs the scene of many phone calls punctuated with “Ok gotta go, call you back in the next commercial break.” – that her thoughts on Jack Layton dying would be as much ruminations on the dreadfulness of cancer as it would be an opportunity to slam Stephen Harper. On a Friday night when it’s time to have a glass of wine I still have to stop myself from reaching for the phone  to say “Hi – Happy Friday!” and the lack of this moment punctuated with silence does feel extremely empty – but I can feel myself slowing moving to the tipping point – pushing myself past that empty moment to the celebratory one “Here’s to Rosie.”

These are the things I miss. I miss being able to tell her that I’m finally starting to dress less like a hobo hippy  chick and more like a proper person, that I’m learning to brush my hair when I go out, that I modelled in a fashion show at work and even wore make-up, that I can see her grandchildren growing up in all the ways she had hoped, that we are hanging on as a family even though I still feel like the centre is missing – that I tried to turn my brother into my mother but it doesn’t work. Only my mother is my mother – no matter how much I love my brothers and sisters.  I want to tell her that I hope she keeps showing up in my dreams – please don’t stay away for years. That I want to remember what the last words she said to me were which I think was “Okay I want chocolate.”  That she would have laughed and found this ironic and funny. I want to tell her that I stopped reading books when she died because they made me feel too much but I’m ready again – that I’m reading again.

My word palace is that these conversations somehow continue – that when people leave they don’t leave you per se which is how it has felt – so deeply personal – so inadvertently abandoned- she simply moved on to the next stage in life – she is still fully in my heart. I still love her as much as always. even though I have to move past that hard stage of grief so I can start to embrace my own life. That I’ll always have words for her, always have conversations – that everyday when I hear music I always think of her. I love you mom.



Filed under Conversations with My Mother, Random Musing

12 responses to “Conversations with My Mother: A Year Later: An Exposition on Grief (video)

  1. Ron

    Tessa, that was beautiful. My Dad’s been gone since 1999 and just yesterday, at an event where they had an old-fashioned “barbershop quartet”, I found myself wanting to tell him about it because he loved that kind of music. They are always with us….

  2. Loved this – it had me in tears. Thank you for writing.

  3. Dearest Tessa,

    I Love that this video was shot at Blue Cat Lane and so happy that Rosie enjoyed our home with you guys. Your mom was in my dreams twice over the last couple of weeks but It wasn’t the Rosie I saw before she passed but the vibrant and full of life Rosie as in the video. I think it was her way of letting me know that she was okay. I was happy that she visited. Thank you for sharing this.
    Lots of Love

  4. Janet

    Thanks for this beautiful piece of writing, my friend.

    I still think “I’ll have to tell mom that”, but now it just makes me happy, it doesn’t hurt the way it used to.

    I miss you every day.


  5. Mia

    Ok, well that made me cry.
    That was beautiful – video and words.

  6. That was a very touching video Tessa, and your words ring so true when it comes to grief and loss. Beautifully done my dear.


  7. p.s. I’ll share this on fb if you don’t mind…other friends will appreciate the sentiments as they are in the same boat as us…. the boat of
    “motherless daughters”.

  8. Petra Morin

    Thank you Tess, I had to wait until today to read this…………So beautiful, so true, so Rosie!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Eva

    I remember the night I met Rosie for the first time. A Dancing Queen, indeed. Dave, your creativity captured Rosie superbly, and brought tears to my eyes. Tessa, your heartfelt words were beautiful, and I could hear you as I read them. Here’s to Rosie.
    Eva xoxo

  10. This is so beautiful. And true, and honest. Thank you so much, Tessa. I’m printing this one out. XO

  11. Anne

    Thanks Tessa, That’s beautiful. A lot of pictures and souvenirs came back.
    I never forgot my holidays by you. I never forgot Rosie.She is a wonderful lady.

  12. Lisa

    Dear Tessa,
    Thank you for sharing this. You have put into words many emotions that I had with Scott’s passing, and then last year with Wendy who also died of cancer. I also stopped reading for nearly a year after Scott’s death. I couldn’t say why. But, one day it lifted and I started reading again. Warm thoughts pop up without the tears now, and we still laugh when a situation calls for “wilson-ism”. My delivery will never be close to the real thing! Big hugs to you.

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