Nearly a Week in

26 Sep

Two days ago, I found myself clutching a pair of size 7.5 Nikes, sobbing. They were my mom’s shoes, and I was donating them to a charity that operates a closet where transgender youth can get gender-affirming clothes.

My mom would have been happy her barely-worn shoes were going to someone in need. I was happy they were going to an often-overlooked segment of our community. And yet.

There was something so final about giving those shoes away.

I thought about keeping them but decided not to, because if I kept all the physical things that reminded me of my mom, I’d be hoarded out of my home. I have memories, and I have the songs she loved, and I know that will be enough. Eventually.

So for now, I squirreled away a pink hoodie my mom loved, and the perfume she wore when I was a kid, and poems she wrote in the 70s.

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a week since my mom died. I keep thinking, “this time last week, I was…” and then filling in the blanks. I was laying next to her while she slept. I was dissolving Ativan in morphine, so she wouldn’t be in pain. I was realizing her death was imminent.

My house is full of flowers. I have been so touched by the kindness of my friends and colleagues. Every day, I’ve gotten a card or a bouquet or a meal or a text or message from a friend. I keep saying this has been awful, but knowing so many people are there offering support has made it slightly easier. The sad part is, I keep wanting to tell my mom about it and of course I can’t.

I have been surprised at the surprise I feel. I had three months to prepare for this. I was the one who, throughout my mom’s illness, kept having to remind my dad, “She’s dying.” And yet it still was so unexpected. Even as I laid next to her during her last few days, even as the hospice nurses said death would happen soon, I just wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready when she took her last breath, I wasn’t ready when the nurse pronounced her dead, I wasn’t ready when they took her body away.

People keep telling me grief is like an ocean, that it comes in waves. That I have to work through it. That sadness will hit me when I least expect it, and that eventually I’ll be able to focus on the good memories we shared.

I’m nearly a week in, so I guess we’ll see.

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