I lost my mom in January. Not to suicide, thank God, but to a wasting illness that she hid from almost everyone. For several months it was clear that something was wrong but she deflected all inquiries about her health and refused to tell even her kids about her diagnosis. When she died, it felt very sudden and out of nowhere.
My mom and I weren’t close but we weren’t estranged. She was a complicated private person and we lived very separate lives. Because she hadn’t been part of my daily life for years, I don’t miss her now. Not really. And up until this week, I thought about her every now and then but most of my time and energy has gone into building my relationship with my dad.
This week my work took me to the west coast for the first time since her memorial service. As I landed in this city that’s so close to where my mom used to live, I couldn’t stop crying.
It seems that no matter how I feel about her on an intellectual/emotional level, my body associates her strongly with this part of the country. Perhaps my current grief is more of a physical sensation and less of an emotional one. It’s a grief associated with other people’s grief, like my dad who misses her very much, and my siblings who all had their own complicated relationships with her.
In addition to processing my own emotional and physical state, my work has been a grueling mess this week and now two public figures I admire and respect committed suicide.
I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. Maybe that life is messy? My own particularly right now. And that my heart goes out to the grieving families of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, both of whom were clearly struggling in ways that they hid from the public. I feel their grief and confusion and anger and I sympathize.
I’m trying to be in my body this week. If it needs to cry and be here in this grief filled city, I’m letting it. It’s hard. But at least I’m alive to do it.