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The sweet sentiment of my mourning bubble

March 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm


I’m working from home today. I’m calling banks and creditors, and the substandard HMO with whom my mother had an account. The Discover card she never used and the Mutual of Omaha cancer policy that she kept – just in case. One bank’s making it easy, the other wants me to show up in person, and forget about dealing with the post office on the phone. If they’d answer, perhaps I’d be half-way there. I’m finally reporting the recent death of my mother and it’s going much better than I expected. I gave myself about ten days to do so and except for the momentary breakdown when pulling out her driver’s license (which she hadn’t used for eighteen years) and seeing her picture, I’m holding myself together quite nicely.

I think it’s because it’s another way I get to “be” with my mother, this rummaging of papers and telling strangers that she passed on 2/19. That’s how I say it, 2/19, not February, not two weeks ago, just the numbers. I don’t want to stop being with her and don’t want to give up this new family closeness that’s resulted from waiting for mom to die. I don’t want to just be in the world and be okay. I want to lie in my bed and page through the some twenty-five mildewy photo albums that she kept at her apartment. The musty odor of the books comforts me.

What I see is a well-coiffed, bleached blonde woman dressed in sharp clothes smiling a lot. She’s either holding an infant grandchild on her lap or standing beside one of her mail suitors on a cruise ship or standing in a row with her three daughters squinting in the Florida sun, palm trees over to the left. There’s one of her in a classroom leaning over the desk of her younger granddaughter during a Pittsburgh visit. She hadn’t been there since she gave up flying in her early eighties. That was more than five years ago.

I want to think about her. I want to cry more and even though I know that there will be plenty of time for that, I don’t want to go back to the world of living without my mother. I fear it will come too easily returning to the routine of my life.  I won’t be visiting her during my lunch hour and I won’t be sharing my green protein shakes with her anymore. I won’t be maudlin and list all the ways she contributed  to (or disturbed) my life. I will just say that mourning my mother is sweet. It’s a way of learning how to live with her in a new invisible way. About how to keep her in my heart the way all my well-meaning friends suggest.

It hasn’t sunk in yet what the world will be like without my mom. I won’t come out of my mourning bubble until I’m good and ready. I wear the torn black gross-grain mourning ribbon on my clothes so everyone knows that I am not alone. I am with my mother. I carry her symbol on my lapel and I may wear it for the whole year. Who knows. Thirty days just doesn’t seem long enough.



Comments (2)


    I’ve been so very close to this edge with my Mom & Dad for the last 8 months, you words are so full of wisdom. Hold on to her forever but do not lose your lovely joy.

    Comment by Ann DeMarleMarch 2, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

    Beautiful Kim. That is exactly how I felt 7 years ago when my Father died. His aroma lingered around for awhile letting us slowly get used to the idea that he was now gone but still with us in spirit. Now I hold him close in my heart. The tears have slowly faded away and now I find myself laughing and smiling at all the memories and music we shared.

    Comment by Kim Harris WaageMarch 2, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

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