A Touch of Sorrow
September has always been rough for me. I’m one of those people who gets sad when it gets dark and cold outside, which is one reason why I moved to Texas.
But lately, there is so much more melancholy in my life. My father’s birthday was September 10. Even though he died years ago (he was diagnosed with cancer when I was 26 years old) I can’t help but think of him each fall in particular.
And then, of course, there’s 9/11. My father sat in his office in Union Square and watched the whole sickening event play out while my mom and I watched on TV. He wasn’t supposed to be at work that day, but didn’t want to go with my mom and me to the lawyer to write up the will for his pending demise. He wanted to escape thoughts of death and ended up being literally surrounded by it. We were all changed forever.
But now I have a new flashpoint for grief. My mother passed away in May and I find myself mentally rewinding to this time last year when she lived with us and was going through chemo.
My son is six and he’s fixated on understanding death and heaven. If Grandma is in heaven, then why are you sad, Mommy?
You’re right, I shouldn’t be, I say.
Maybe I’ll go to heaven and visit her.
No! You stay here on Earth with me, I say and smile, but it’s a fake smile that doesn’t reach my eyes and he knows that. How can I explain heaven?
My mother has boxes and boxes of things from her house that we never unpacked and are stored in my closet. Some days I’ll go through a box and try to get through it quickly, giving away items to Goodwill or discarding broken memories. My daughter will see something in the donation bag and pull it out.
Why are you giving that away? It’s Grandma’s hat.
Because Grandma only wore that hat when she was sick and I don’t want to remember her sick. I want to remember what she was like the rest of her life.
Don’t throw it away! my son interrupts and then he starts to cry, probably because most of his memories are from when she was sick and that’s how he remembers her.
I try not to write about it, because it makes me so sad, and I want my blog to be a positive place. But death is part of life; so is sadness sometimes. I’m at an age now where some of my friends have lost a parent too and I see them post things online about missing their mother or father from time to time, so I know I’m not alone.
Even though I feel very alone some days. A new family resides in my childhood home. They’ll never see the marks on the wall where we measured our growing bodies. And I’ll never get to listen to the cicadas chirping outside my bedroom window on a summer night.
Both my parents are gone. And even though I’m 41, a grown woman with a husband and kids, there are some days you just need your mom. You need your dad.
Tomorrow starts a new month and it will be filled with work, and plans and fun activities, but today, this last day of September, I’m allowing myself to feel a little bit of sorrow.
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