DIARIO DI MAMMA
A wave of exhaustion washes over me, and I am completely paralyzed. I’m under water and suffocating. And I just can’t lift myself up and out of the storm, so I can breathe again. It feels like the end. Sadness is murdering me. I’m unable to fight back.
I know the depths of pain that come with missing someone who was so much apart of your everyday and your entire being that you took him or her for granted, who helped shape you, who profoundly loved you, who you profoundly loved, who is part of your soul. There’s no getting over it.
People will tell you that time will heal. But it actually gets worse. As more time passes, you go through the motions of creating new memories. Certainly, there are new people, who come into the picture. Yet, the ones who are gone are never replaced, and with every memory made, you’re reminded that they have missed one more important part of you. Their seat at the table is empty. You are empty.
Over time, there are always more people to miss. Death takes many away from us. For me, I’ve lost all but one of my grandparents, aunts and uncles who were like second parents, and close friends, who were taken away from us way too young. Many of them suffered in the days before they were ripped away from us. Death was almost welcome in those cases, but it doesn’t make the pain you are feeling from the top of your head to the tips of your toes any easier. The shock wears off, maybe. But the devastation is permanent, an indelible mark on your very essence.
There are those who are physically alive but have cut you off or you’ve cut them off or it was mutual. Regardless, you still miss whatever it is you had when things were good or you thought them to be good. The loss is often profound and harder to accept than death. You might see these people live and in person. You will look past each other, but memories of what you had will flood you. You might even feel the flood pumping your heart in that moment. In some rare cases, the feeling is mutual and you both turn around and change what happens next. But, most of the time, you can’t turn back. You are no longer meant for one another. Your brain might even know that you’re all better off without one another. After all, together, you are poison. But the heart doesn’t always get the message in time. The risk is that you’ll go back to one of these relationships, try to revive it, die from the venom, and end up missing yourself most of all.
Perhaps, the worst longing I’ve known was the loss of someone I never really knew. Six years ago tomorrow, I experienced a miscarriage after 8 weeks of pregnancy. The bean that seemed to be growing inside me was an empty shell. I remember lying on the couch and listening to the leaves in the wind. I remember wrapping myself in darkness. I remember this life literally draining out of me. Even though my angel eventually brought me another child to hold in my arms, I can’t let go of what might have been. I can’t let go of who I became the day after I learned that my little heartbeat had stopped. I can’t forget the loss. It’s the ultimate unrequited love.
When I miss all these others, I am really missing the old version of myself, the one whose strength was propelled by an inability to conceive of a world without these souls. It was naivete, maybe. It was happiness, definitely. It was a time when I wasn’t drowning. I felt more capable, more secure, more loved. I miss the world we all inhabited together. I felt more able to face it.
The older I get, the more I feel, the more I miss. To read this is to believe my prospects are grim. To read this is a report of gloom and doom for you. But that’s actually not how I see it anymore. Missing all these people – talking to them out loud knowing full well I will never get any answers – makes me more alive. The more you lose, the more you gain. Today, I don’t take anyone for granted. I work hard to take mental photographs of all the meaningful moments, and recognize they are all meaningful. The son who lived inside me for nine months, who I get to hug and kiss and hold, is the embodiment of my gratitude. He personifies hope and unwittingly carries with him the bits of each soul I have loved and lost. Every tear I shed makes every smile more valuable. To know losses of this magnitude is to know pure and hopeful love.