My mom died on July 18, 2021.

I’ve been in a weird in-between state, half awake and half-sleep.

I wanted to post on social media a funny experience I had with my sons but I could not bring myself to share it.

I cannot share the few glimpses of light that brighten my days because the world has returned to normal and I don’t want to invite the idea that I have also returned to normal when I’m far from it. I am terrified for people to get comfortable with me laughing and joking again because I’m not sure when the laughter will turn to tears. I don’t want people to forget that I’m mourning because I know I’ll never stop. I know things are normal again for folks, the initial shock of my mom dying has worn off for them. For me though, it’s a constant state of shock as I forget and painfully remember that the one who ushered me into existence, no longer exists. Death is a natural part of the life cycle and yet nothing has ever been more unnatural to me than a world without my mother.

She was not an angel. We had a complicated relationship. In the end, I sat by her side and both of us cried and we apologized for hurts both big and small. She spoke her last words to me. She focused her eyes on me and she mustered her strength and mouthed “I love you too".

I think of all the times when we bypassed “I love you” or hung up on one another instead of saying we loved each other. I think of the weeks we spent not talking, both for serious and trivial reasons. There were times when it was necessary for us to be apart and other times when we were both too scared to come together after all of the hurt. That hurt was real but this hurt is so much more raw and unyielding than anything I have ever experienced.

I’m not ready to post happy shit. I’m not happy. I hurt and it’s a hurt I embrace with open arms because it’s the only thing I understand right now. I can’t wrap my mind around my mom not being here. The world still rotating and orbiting and my mom not living is a wildly, incongruent concept. I understand this pain, though, because the loss of her has been the severance of something psychic and emotional and spiritual and pain seems to be the only thing that makes sense. I accept the pain. I expect it. Most importantly, I want my mom to know that my heart breaks from missing her. It feels like flagellation to an extent; like I feel as if I must endure this pain and suffering to atone for how often I didn’t honor her. I loved my mother but I could’ve taken more time to love her the way she wanted. I have no second chance to get it right. The memories do not suffice. They are tinted and fuzzy and I question whether they are true or if they are the machinations of my grief. The pain is real though. In the pain, I realize again and again this is not a dream and I’m forced to face the fact that she is gone and that we will never have back the times we lost.

So yeah…my kids are trying to cope and they’re doing funny, cute kid things and my husband is adorable and using his humor to try and ground me but I’m not ready to let the world forget my pain because I need the world to remember my mom. I need to be sure I remember my mom. I was foolish enough to believe I was done needing her. I don’t want this pain to go away because I never want to forget how wrong I was. I hope like hell she knows that I was wrong because I need her now more than ever before. Hubris comes at a cost. I pay for mine in pain.

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Both a keeper and a weeper. A writer, a wife, a mother, and a life long scholar. BA English Literature(2013), M.LIS(2018), current MSW student. She/Her/Hers

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Anessah Barker

Anessah Barker

Both a keeper and a weeper. A writer, a wife, a mother, and a life long scholar. BA English Literature(2013), M.LIS(2018), current MSW student. She/Her/Hers

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