After my Nana died, my mom told me that one of the worst parts was not being able to call her mother on the phone and share the day's events. Even years after, mom would reach for the phone, hold it for a moment and then hang it up with a sigh. She would say that it would hit her ... oh right, she's dead. It made me so sad for her, and for myself, because I knew I'd be in the same boat one day.
When my personal ship to Valhalla sailed, it was much the same. Mom and I have the same dark sense of humor. I'd encounter something that amused me during the day, and she would be the one to share it with. Or we'd make fun of it together. With her gone, I'd keep it to myself. It's like trying to explain a joke after the fact, it loses its luster. In private, Mom could also curse like a sailor, probably because my father was a sailor. I didn't swear in front of her, because ... d'uh, she was my mother, but all bets have been off for some time now. On a side note, I remind the children that these are just words, some in use for thousands of years, and that there will be people who will think less of them for using these words, so be mindful of the right time and place. But in a hypocritical fashion, I tell them not to swear in front of me. Fuck should come out of my mouth and not theirs, if I'm in the room.
But I digress from my original thought.
My husband is now encountering the same void of communication that I have, something I tried to prepare him for. He had a thought about something yesterday and was going to call dad to pick his brain, but dad's gone. No call. The sadness grows. It didn't upset me that he didn't think to pick my brain; he wanted to ask his father. I completely understand. We don't fill the holes in our life created by the loss of those we love or have loved. We just learn to walk carefully around the edges. We do a disservice to ourselves and those we've lost, whether through death or distance, when we expect others in our lives to fill those empty spaces. I've learned that grief is not a one size fits all shroud. Some people learn how to change outfits, some learn how to accessorize and some convert it to an undershirt.
Mom used to send me cards for every special occasion, little care packages for the kids - hand painted Halloween shirts, a handmade bracelet for a birthday with an explanation for each chosen bead, envelopes with clippings from magazines that I should be aware of, a painted wall hanging with the words from my childhood bedtime prayer that still hangs over my daughter's bed, the list goes on. After she moved in, she'd continue to make them things - intricate wands for them to use to pretend to be wizards like Harry Potter, a decorated worry book for child #1 to write her worries down in, more hand painted shirts, and always the cards. When she died, all this ended. I still make things for the kids, and we all enjoy a rollicking art project, but it's not the same. And I know that it will never be the same again. Whenever we paint, I always make sure to wear a smock over my undershirt. I don't want to get it dirty.