losing a mother, the first year.

It has been one year since my mom died. It feels a little bit like I’ll see her in a few weeks and she’s still tucked away, lakeside living in that little sepia lit house. Every memory feels like it happened an hour ago, but also as if there’s a very real possibility it never even occurred. I have spent considerable time dwelling on the idea that she held a lifetime of memories of me that expired with her. I’ve been half existing ever since. The person that created me, gave me life is gone: there’s a primordial bond at play, a deeper permanency in this kind of loss.

This has been, and may forever be, one of the most poignant experiences that I will endure. I’m sure of it. There’s a juxtaposition at play now, new emotions that I’m in the most nascent stages of beginning to process: loss, with its tenured absence and love, with its eternal disposition.

We think we know love. But this? It’s the most overwhelming, raw, infinite sensation; I may never love anyone as instinctively again. What a thought to have. I’m not sure how to quantify it or where to put that emotion. This stratum of consciousness is an impossible terrain.

I have celebrated her each day. The kind of mom that spent her time painting and reading, her jeans rolled up at her ankles showing a tattoo anklet with all of our names in cursive, a giant lime-green coffee mug in her hand (she had probably reheated it twice that day), dancing in the living room whenever we asked her to, and an affinity for reinventing anything she saw on the side of the road. The kind of mom that roared ‘no’ with an unmatched ferocity; coercing a strange balance of obedience and rebellion in her children.

Indefinitely, I will celebrate her as strong-willed, firm, particular, decisive — with a resolve that I increasingly admire as I age into adulthood. Always respectful of difference, but never willing to tolerate corners of bias that people her age sometimes succumb to as they distractedly cling onto their slice of society’s proverbial pie — she prioritized quietly providing for the people around her in any way she could. In this way, I know her absence has been tough on all of us; it’s a testament to the support and anchor that she was. For those that knew her, it’s been a hard year, surfacing and stabilizing ourselves, hasn’t it?

I certainly strive to be as carefree as she lived — searching to uncover how she did all of this in one lifetime. I will be ruminating somewhere there forever, always questioning if I will live so impactfully, or how I could possibly begin to try.

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