I recall a day earlier this year, when my mother’s upcoming death was a certainty but not imminent, that she and I spent an entire afternoon in her closet, as she picked things out for me to try on (we were always the same size in absolutely everything). All the things she’d loved and wanted to share with me, she pulled out of drawers and off of shelves and hangers and insisted I model for her, noting how I might work them into my wardrobe, into my life. I teared up at one point and asked her how I’d ever be able to wear those things after she was gone, and she smiled, clear-eyed, and told me to think of it as her hugging me every time I put something of hers on. She was having so much fun that day, there was so much joy in her demeanor, we laughed and we joked and we reveled in being alive, knowing what we were facing, but knowing it was in the future and it was not NOW.
Of course, now it’s NOW. The only word I can use to describe how I was feeling this morning is “bleak.” At first I thought I was sad, but no, that wasn’t it. I didn’t have the blues. It was darker than that. I’ve often felt, over the past ten weeks, like there’s a pall over me personally, my own private black cloud, which I can choose to ignore most of the time as I go about my life, but which is still always there, waiting to be noticed, waiting to be wallowed in. I flatly refuse to wallow (which is why I haven’t talked about this in weeks). Still, sometimes, like this morning, I can’t seem to help myself. The bleakness is near suffocating. And yes, I miss her, but there’s more to it than loss. It’s that six months ago, she was laughing and joyful and alive, and now she’s absent, she’s ash. It’s the snuffing out of that divine spark of life that was so vibrant that day we played in her closet and was so absent when I arrived at her apartment on the day she died. I’m struggling to accept that this is what happens to everyone, to everything. That it will happen to me, to everyone I admire, to everyone I love.
My life didn’t stop when my mother died. And it didn’t stop today because of the bleakness. So I folded a load of laundry. I texted my husband that I loved him. I blasted dance music on my way to work. I taught a yoga class where I invested my whole self into moving stuck energy through and out of the bodymind with breath and posture. I sought out joy, laughter, relief, because it’s painful to wallow, and because it wouldn’t change anything anyway.
Just like on that happy day with my mom, I know my future death is a certainty, just (hopefully) not imminent (knock wood). And anyway, it’s definitely not NOW.