They’ll ask you what’s wrong. They’ll encourage you to cheer up. They’ll remind you to take one step at a time. They’ll tell you it will get better. You smile weakly. You know they mean well. You thank them for their kindness. Then you crawl back inside yourself like a wounded turtle.
Inside you are screaming so loud that your voice is bouncing off the walls of your heart. Grief has wrapped itself around your bones, around your spine, up to your neck, choking you. It hurts to breathe because there’s fire in your chest, in your throat. The words are incinerated before they can make it out, so you can’t tell them what’s wrong. You can’t cheer up because of the searing, constant pain that you’re in. You can’t move, not even to take it one step at a time, and even if you could, you won’t find anywhere better.
The only person that could make it better is gone. The rock. The root. The reassurance. It’s gone. Your home was washed away by a storm of cancer after 58 years of withstanding everything this world threw at her — heartbreak, abuse, drama, humiliation. That tower of strength tucked in a 5’5” frame toppled after eight days and four hours.
There’s only so much that tears will wash away, and even still, the pain never really leaves. It sits, thick as mud, in the pit of your stomach. It tries to churn it away, but it’s too much. Only when the flood of emotion washes over you does the pain rise, and suddenly it’s too much. You try to close the door on it and keep it out, but inside of you it begins to overflow, and you find yourself drowning in this sea of “why.” Why did she have to go? Why did she always have to go?
She was the home you ran away from but came back to like a prodigal daughter. She let you cling to her as a baby and as a woman because she didn’t see the difference. You sat and watched her pulled down and wrestled to the floor by a disease that took the strongest part of her—her mind. You watched the light in her eyes dim into nothingness. You felt the heart that held you stop beating. You watched her cease to exist in this world that you must now navigate without a compass, without an anchor, without your roots.
It will be okay, they tell you. Cheer up, they say. One day at time, the remind you. What’s wrong? they ask. You want to scream until your throat is raw that your mother is dead and there is no light, no advice, no words of wisdom that will bring her back, fill that hole, or patch that wound. You want to cry tears of anger, grief, despair and sadness until you have rung yourself out completely. You want to go to sleep and wake up and this have all been a long, terrible nightmare.
Instead, you smile weakly. You thank them for their kindness. And you crawl.