A friend sent me a link to a post on Huffington Post written by a young writer thinking about braving the subject matter of her mother’s death. She was just 21 years old when her mom died at 51. How different it must be to lose your mom before you’ve had a chance to get to (try to) know her as an adult. I wonder how much this traumatic event has influenced the direction of this still young woman’s life. I think a lot.
I noted in reading her piece that she sort of speeded up when she got to the hard stuff. Short sentences highlighting changes in herself, impacts of bereavement:
I developed sharp edges to ward off love that I wasn’t ready to receive, but I silently craved affection and attention.
I cried in the arms of several bosses, but couldn’t bring myself to shed tears in the presence of family.
I became fiercely independent, yet I yearned for approval and validation more deeply than ever before.
I became acutely aware of the mortality of my family members, but pushed them away because I couldn’t handle the emotional exposure.
I collected mother figures like Russian dolls, but I couldn’t allow myself the indulgence of feeling safe in their love — the risk of losing them was just too great.
I wore my personal tragedy like a badge of honor, but privately I felt ashamed of my broken-ness.
I LOVE that last line.
There’s a lot there, and she knows it. I feel like I’ve done the same in a lot of my posts here: lots of descriptive narrative leading up to abrupt stops at the most important stuff. Just labeling those things as important is hard enough. Diving into the details will take time.
She goes on to conclude:
Grieving is a messy process, to say the least. Since October 12, 2011, countless people have said to me “I can’t even begin to understand what that must feel like.” Most of the time, my response is “neither can I.” No word of a lie.
I write to make sense of myself, my life, and the world around me. And now, starting today, I write to make sense of my own legacy of loss. I write to finally, at least a little bit, start to understand what it must feel like to lose your mom.
It’s looking like I’ll be writing for the rest of my life.
A 24-year-old woman with a legacy of loss that she doesn’t understand. I honor her struggle and I look forward to reading what she figures out.