Sunday, November 3, 2013
Open letter to those who don’t know what to say:
My mother died. The most important, essential and primal person in my life has died. She is not coming back, and this private silent grief is not something that can be understood unless you, too, are part of the Adult Orphan Club. Don’t ask me how I am: I’m horrible, and it is ridiculous to expect a different answer. Many of you have not said anything, acted as if nothing happened, handled it badly, or acted as if I should be better now. Let me let you in on my truth: I will never be better and I am shaky all the time.
So if you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything: instead hug me when you see me. Whisper “I am so sorry” in my ear. Grasp my hand, leave cookies on my porch, send me flowers, a card, or a text checking in. Come over and help me paint new color on my walls, mulch the garden, sit quietly with me over tea, and most importantly, let me cry if I suddenly need to. Don’t try to comfort me. You can’t. If I talk about her, listen. Ask about her occasionally, but don’t be upset if I have tears running down my face as I tell you. Mostly, understand when I don’t want to talk, or be around people, even you, at least for now.
In short, there are a lot of ways to tell me that you love me, without having to uncomfortably address my mother’s death. Say it any way you know how. Trust me, I can hear you. I will be listening. But don’t do nothing.
And when I get to where I can emerge, be patient with me. On the day I get married, tell me she would be proud. When I publish my first book, know that I will set one aside for her, even though it will never be read. Maybe one day I will have a whole shelf of books that she will never read, yet there they will be. Daffodils and narcissus will bloom every year and every year I will tell you they are her favorites, and the story of the terra cotta pots. Nod as if you have never heard me say that before. I will show you the picture of her on her trike when she was four. Admire it as if you have never seen it before. Tell me she was beautiful.
Because she was.