Losing my mom has been sort of a defining sadness for me -- a terrible rite of passage at the very start of my adulthood. I've spent whole weeks crying in my office every day, lost countless sentences in my throat that had very unexpectedly brought up her memory.
But after I wrote the letter, an amazing thing happened: I began to see from a larger perspective. It's not so much amazing that I opened my eyes, really. I guess the amazing thing was that I had never seen this before.
What I realized is that no matter how terrible the pain of losing my mom was, it was the natural order of things.
When I was 16, I lost a dear childhood friend. At his wake, his grandmother said to me, "No one should ever have to bury her own grandson." I thought of her last week, and how unimaginable it would be for me to have to bury my son. And then it clicked into place: The parents care for the children, then the children care for the parents, and then the children lose the parents. I knew the first two parts, but I had never connected the third until this week. I know now that as much as I miss her, it was the way things should happen. I know this must seem terribly obvious, but I swear, it was a revelation to me. And it gave me a peace that I hadn't felt since she passed.
The second realization I had was that since she died, I had never considered her loss. I had always felt cheated for having lost her as a mother. It was 15 years ago; I feel like I have lived a whole lifetime since then, and she hasn't gotten to see any of it. And I finally thought of it as a mom. I lost her -- but she lost me, too, and all of her children at once. How terrible that must have been for her. And once I finally considered that, for the first time in my selfish brain, I was less concerned with my own loss.
From the perspective of this moment, I think that I will miss my mom forever. But I think that it maybe won't always have to hurt so much. And I am really grateful for that.