Monday, August 18, 2008

On the pain of loss

My mother passed away almost two weeks ago. It was an embolism, which struck without warning, as embolisms do. No tearful goodbye on a death bed, no time to brace myself, Just a day earlier I had seen my mother via a skype conversation. She showed me the bandage from her recent foot surgery, and had a smile plastered on her face that I will remember as the dominant theme of her life: no matter what hardships she endured, what challenges she faced, she held herself with a dignity and a positivity that couldn't help but inspire everyone she knew, whether they were lifelong friends or someone she had met during a chance encounter. She was my source of strength for so many years, and during a tragedy like this, she is the one I would have turned to for solace or a talk.

There's a strange thing that happens when someone so close to you passes away. Vivid moments from the first week of her death flash in my mind like a strobe light, pounding away at me: getting the phone call and the shock and uncontrollable shaking that accompanied it. Selecting a coffin. Losing it over and over again. The viewing. The Funeral, which was beautiful, and yet played out with every cliché of weak legs and eyes blurred by tears that I thought were machinations of television and film. The tsunami of love and support from friends and relatives. Then, there are other things that I cannot remember, like her laugh. A laugh I heard so many times that I took it for granted. The Rabbi mentioned her laugh during the eulogy and countless people talked about it during the course of sitting shiva, and I can't remember it.

I've never felt guiltier about something in my life than I do about forgetting my mother's laugh.

People talk about the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance, as if they are a slow march towards healing that can be measured as you reach each specific feeling. While I'm sure the concept has validity, I have been experiencing all of these emotions at once, although perhaps the fact that I am overwhelmingly mired in a depression right now means there's a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I still bargain, I still deny, and I still get angry.


In the end, we move on because we have to. You slowly move into line with the rest of the world, and although there is a hole in your heart, you live with the pain, and allow your mind to hold on to what was precious about your relationship so you can draw a vibrant picture for those who never had the pleasure of knowing her. And ultimately, you realize that when you continue with your life, in some bizarre way, you're keeping her alive.

I love you mom.

16 comments:

nicole gray said...

wow, that was beautiful and I love you very much!

Lani Anglin-Rosales said...

Hal, what a gorgeous tribute to your mother. Your family will remain in our prayers. {{hugs}}

Bill Lublin said...

Mom's smiling at her sonny boy right now.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Hal, as I wipe the tears away from my eyes I know your mother couln't be prouder of the son, the husband and the man that you are. What an amazing sentiment that you wrote about your mom, but the real tribute to her is everything you have become. You are truly an unbelieveable compliment to your mom's life.
Love, Michael

Felicia said...

Hal,
Even though we don't talk as often as I'd like I was always getting Hal updates. I always knew what was going on in your life. Your mother was so proud of you. She loved you and Jenn so much. It's up to us now to make sure I get those updates!!! I love you.
Love,
Felicia

Dan said...

Hey Hal...

I can't say I went through the same thing because my mom had been sick with cancer but it wiped her out within 3 months. We all thought she'd pull through but then I got that call at work saying she'd only be around another week. That whole week was spent crying myself to sleep only to wake up and cry some more. I still kick myself for not spending more time with her while she was ill but I am lucky that the last thing I said to her was that I loved her. That was 6 years ago this week, actually. Like I said, it gets easier and eventually life will almost get back to normal but there's always going to be that hole. And to anyone out there reading this- never pass up a chance to tell your mom you love her.

Jennifer Marie said...

I Love You My Beautiful Husband. My Heart, My Angel.

Mat Lageman said...

You are so brave and so strong. I admire you for the man that you are and the comedy you bring to every table. Your mother must be so proud she gave us all the coolest gift in the world- You. For that, I am ever thankful.

andrew said...

I like you Hal. Always have, always will.

bonnie said...

HAL...It is no wonder that you are the mensch that you are. Your mother will be with you for the rest of your life and I promise you this..You will remember her laugh. Give it time.

All my love,

Bonnie Molluso

Phillip Wilburn said...

Hal, I have been praying for you guys a lot. Take care my friend...clap clap clap.
PW

Anonymous said...

Hal, you don't remember your mother's laugh because it's a part of you. The same way we never remember our own skin.
One day when you and Jenn have two or three beautiful children, your youngest, a daughter will howl with laughter one day and you'll hear your mother laughing with you. I can see it.
Peace and Love my brother.

Jon Furlong said...

Couldn't have said it better.
Love you, brother.

Eric Rosen said...

Hal,
That was incredibly said. I could not of said it any better. You are in my thoughts everyday!! I love you!!

Jay Thompson said...

Hal - I had the pleasure of meeting your Mom just a couple of weeks before she passed. She was a wonderful, classy lady. Your tribute would make her proud.

Terri Drobish said...

Hal that was beautifully written. I believe your mother was the most dignified human being I had ever met. You will again hear that laugh and you will remember it. God Bless You.