Wednesday, October 5, 2011

That Which Does Not Kill You

When I became a mother I joined a club. Only people who had also become mothers could begin to approach a full understanding of the experience, could offer the knowing smile of a comrade in arms. I had a similar experience when I moved into my first home, when I married, when I bought my first car, when I totaled it. There is a difference between a conversation about these things with someone who has not experienced it firsthand, and someone who has.

When my mother died, I was pulled, quite unhappily, into another club, and while I would give up my membership in this one in a heartbeat if provided the opportunity, I am grateful that there are people who crossed my path who knew so intimately what I was experiencing. From distant neighbors to good friends to the owner of my company, whose email to me during that time rang with the lingering sadness of loss.

But the person whose single statement bubbles to the surface most often, I didn't really know at all. She is an operations person who works for the funeral home that handled the arrangements and cocooned our family through the gray, foggy process. She sat down with my sisters and me and told us she'd lost her own mother eleven years ago. And then she said:

"It's important to know that you never get over it. You learn to tolerate it."

During the hours that it hits me the hardest (that occur randomly and with hurricane strength), I cling to that statement. It's okay that I'm not feeling better. I am getting stronger, and the strength is what will make me okay, not the absence of pain.

I just need to remember that.

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