I felt like time accelerated as we approached August 18th. I had a heightened awareness of how quickly the day was approaching and my feeling of entrapment in its imminence. I’ve learned to stop trying to anticipate how I’ll feel on particular milestones. Some days I anticipate with anxiety and a knot in my stomach, come and go with little fanfare. Other days I expect to pass by easily, rock me to my knees. So I’ve stopped expending energy trying to guess how I may feel. Friends will kindly ask, “How are you feeling about X event coming up with your mom?” I say, ” I don’t know.” Not to evade a question but because honestly, your guess is as good as mine. This is the first time I’m dealing with this. And each year will be different because a whole year’s worth of experiences will shape how I feel and react. (Yay. Grief.) I can hardly tell you the mix of emotions I’m feeling in any given moment, let alone try to predict it. So I’ve stopped trying. August 18th was one of those days where I just didn’t know what to expect.
Leading up to August 18th, I quietly passed a few more milestones.
August 16th: The last time my mom and I spoke.
August 17th: The last time I heard my mom’s voicemail and left her a message never to be returned.
I went to bed on the 17th with a similar level of anticipation a kid might have on Christmas Eve. Or maybe, Y2K. I really wasn’t sure what the next day would bring. Do we actually live beyond and outside the one-year mark? Will the clocks actually turn?
I’ve been hearing about the illustrious, seductive One Year Anniversary for 365 days. I’ve heard rumors that after One Year things get easier, pain dissipates. As nice as that sounds, I’ve always wanted to keep my distance from the One Year Anniversary. I feel like I’ve felt every minute of each day of this whole year. I’ve spent a whole year of feeling every step a little heavier. One year of missing. One year “spending time” with my mom only through photos, old videos and letters. But I’ve dreaded the day that separates me from my mom by such large margins, only to get larger and larger. I remember when I would think to myself just make it an hour or just make it to lunch or just make it home and you can cry all you want. I remember how hard it was to say that my mom died a month ago. I felt so distant from her. Once we flipped the calendar to January 1, 2016 I remember thinking that I’d have to say my mom died last year. My mom never knew 2016.
So I hardly slept, holding on to my mom and wishing time could progress no more.
But the damn sun rose. And marked one year since my mom died.
I used to wake up and my first thought would be an abrupt thought that mom is gone. Now, I wake up and my body just knows. She’s hardly far from my thoughts if she isn’t the first thing I think about but now I just feel it. A part of me is gone, dimmed and I don’t mind that part because that’s where I feel my mom and am reminded that I’m affected by loss. That dimmed part of my heart keeps me humble. It’s a reminder that this world is a tough place. It’s a reminder of perspective. It’s not an immediate blow, more so like a little limp I’ll always walk with. It’s a reminder of my reliance and need of friends and outside strength.
I laid in bed waiting to feel different. Maybe it will hurt a little less? Maybe this year has been a joke and my mom comes back? But nothing. No magic. No instant relief. I don’t miss her any less.
I’ve continued to learn so much about my mom this past year. I’ve heard stories from people tell me how my mom either in her life or death have changed their lives. And maybe as much as time has felt like the enemy, maybe just maybe, time has been a friend. Compared to this day a year ago, I am much more at peace, I function a little easier on a day-to-day basis. Anyone I just happen to meet, wouldn’t know of my great loss. Maybe time has softened the edges of a sharp grief.
We’re gonna keep going. Because the damn sun will rise and we have another year to tackle.
I woke up on Aug 19th: Day 1