Sentience

My mother used to gush about how well beer went with chocolate and I agreed, so every time I enjoy a nice amber ale and there’s chocolate nearby, I have to indulge. It’s the little things like this that make me feel closer to her. I wish I could have introduced her to how good chocolate is with wine, though – especially dark chocolate with red wine!

The last gift she ever gave me was a set of decorative, pewter measuring spoons with etched hearts all over them. Every time I reach for those hanging in my kitchen, I taste the familiarity of the bittersweet memory. I had just moved to Brooklyn and she mailed them to me the way we used to mail each other during my college years. When I retrieved the large, white business envelope from my mailbox on that drab, New York winter day, I could see and feel the awkwardness of its shape – it certainly wasn’t just a greeting card inside there. Little did I know that was the last time I’d ever receive mail from my mother.

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She loved having her hair brushed or played with, so every time someone brushes or plays with my hair, I feel a pang of guilt for each time I denied my mother that simple, temporary joy. I’d give anything to feel her hair between my fingers, to run a brush through the length of her locks.

Whenever I’m at the beach, I look down in pursuit of the smooth, colorful sea glass my mother collected and loved so much. I recall her joyful smile while lounging in the sand and soaking up the sun one morning on a beach in Malibu, her ability to enjoy the silence that was so opposite of my inability. I wish she were around to teach me how she did it and to tell me what she enjoyed most about it.

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It is all about the little things and there’s nothing like losing the most important person in your life to make you realize this. If she were still alive, would snail mail mean as much to me? Would I still deny brushing her hair whenever she’d ask? Would chocolate be just another snack and would I even look for sea glass when perusing coastal lands? The truth is the little things have always meant a lot to me even before losing her but their meaning is so much deeper now, so much more sentient.

The Price We Pay for Love

My world seems to be on one of those dimmer switches. Every time I lose someone I love, my surroundings appear a little darker, my thoughts a little more sinister and my reality a little more, well, real. This isn’t me being negative or glass half empty though I can understand where one may come to that conclusion. I’m simply just trying to explain via analogy what so many of us have experienced – the pain and price of loving someone.

Through years of weekly therapy sessions and constant self-analysis, it finally registered: Grieving is not easy and we don’t just do it like Nike. In fact, many of us, including myself, find ways to avoid doing it whether we’re conscious of our evasion or not. I think I must have had this idealization that grieving was like sitting down at our dining table with a cup of coffee at a scheduled time and saying, “On your mark, get set, go! Grieve away. Cry. Let it out.” And then it’s over. Instead of a dimmer, I’m talking about a light switch now. Grief on. Grief off. This is the self-control freak in me speaking.

If only it were that easy, which leads me to my next recognition and that is that grief doesn’t really end. The anguish that correlates with the process may lessen and become more bearable but grief doesn’t actually have an ending point. We don’t wake up one day and suddenly never ever feel the grief again. We may not feel it as often but with the loss of deep and meaningful relationships based in love comes deep, meaningful and lifelong grief. It is, after all, the price we pay for love.

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