Yesterday was sunny—we watered the sunflowers and sat in the sunshine pulling weeds. It was everything a summer day should be and we filled our five senses with the treasures of being outdoors. Together we laughed and played and sang songs of summer.
Today is all different. There are grey clouds across the whole sky and although the rain has not fallen, it is no longer summer. The ash trees are their first shade of yellow. The poplar leaves are still green but a sudden frost may take them overnight any time. And the season has changed.
For me this day marks the turning of seasons in a historical punch to my stomach. On this day, 47 years ago, I heard the words "Your mom has gone to be with God" and everything changed. The sunshine faded and although I spent the next day sitting looking over a tranquil lake there was no joy in the beauty of that scene.
I was more fully alone than I had ever been in my life. This is the anniversary of the season of winter coming over my heart. It is an event that is not for celebrating. It is an un-celebration.
And although I still find myself feeling unbearably alone so many times when I recall this day, there is a choice I have to make. I make the decision to tell someone that this day is hard.
No one in my daily life knew my mom. She is a name and a set of narrated memories to my husband and kids. She is a myth of some kind and a mystery of many kinds—they only know a sliver of who she is and was, through my remembrances. Re-layered memories.
And so I am tempted to keep this piece of my grief, the knowledge of my loss, inside myself. It feels a little bit safer to remember her and un-celebrate this day alone. It is a super-anniversary, an unusual one. She lived for 47 years and now she has been gone for 47—that feels significant to me. For no good reason, except that remembering her on this day is always both hard and important.
But as I sit and remember these big moments of loss and the season of aloneness that came to grip my life for the next decade, I also know that I need to make the best choice I can for myself. I need to tell someone that today is this day. This day of un-celebration.
I wish I could tell you that I have grieved enough to celebrate the brighter side. Celebrate that there was so much good, so much joy, so much delight that was lost when she left. I know that would be the healthy place to be. Celebrate what was so valuable.... that is no more.
But I am not there.
Here is where I am: I am doing well enough to tell just one person this one thing. "Today is the day my mom died."
It feels like a risk. It feels like it might hurt more. It feels like this won't help.
But it does.
It helps to tell one person who has been there for the hardest of memories. And he says the thing that needs to be said because he has learned that being alone doesn't help a mosaic heart to be whole. He says, "I know you feel alone, but you aren't. I'm here."
When the light of one life goes out, sometimes we need help to keep the tiny flicker of hope inside us from being snuffed out.
I wish you this moment of courage. I trust you have a friend, a spouse, a sibling or a kind and caring "neighbour"...someone you can go to with your treasured, uncelebrated memories.
Because we heal when we feel cared for. We heal when we are not alone. We find our way when someone else's light is enough to give us a flicker of hope.
Someone out there cares about your loss. Let them know and let them be the light that shines on your darkest day.
I write on how humans develop and grow through challenges we face. I've divided this into three categories--Growing Love is about relationships and how we create conditions for growth despite the inevitable challenges. Cloudburst is about grief, specifically—which is a tricky topic. We need to keep growing but pushing is the opposite of helpful. And in Dancing on Hot Sand I talk about personal inner growth in hard places—spiritual growth, without sounding religious, I hope.