Wednesday was the fifth anniversary of Laura’s passing. Five years. And yet she is still as present to me as ever. On Monday, her dive buddy Jo and I had dinner together and reminisced about her – her charm, her quirks, her struggles, her kindness and her compassion. There is something magical about talking fondly about the departed. It is like rubbing their genie lamp. It seems to summon their presence. And as we left the restaurant one of Laura’s favorite r&b songs was playing loudly.
We also shared stories about losing our mothers (both died recently). The loss of a mother can be profoundly unsettling. There is a sense of being unmoored, of losing an anchor. And there is also a strange numbness that descends, almost like a protective cloak. Jo told me that after her mother died, she stopped working and spent nine months repairing her grandmother’s quilt. ‘It was made from lots of little triangular scraps of fabric from her days as a seamstress. It was coming apart and I needed to do something.’
Surely no coincidence that she chose something warm and homely – a comforter no less – to focus her attentions on. But when Jo finished she felt a strong pain in her knee. It was so bad, she went to see her doctor. An X ray revealed that she had a large sewing needle embedded in her leg. She had evidently sat on the needle, but not felt it. ‘I was in a grief coma,’ she says.
This grief-induced anesthesia can last for months. Until we can put one foot in front of the other and go on. My sister said recently: ‘You seemed so flat in the autumn. I was worried about you.’ I think there were times in the fall I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on. There was an emptiness, a lack of desire to summon life through me. My energy shifted around christmas-time. Almost 9 months after mum’s death. I remember 9 months being a turning point after Laura died too. So at the end of 2018, back in England, surrounded by the love of family and surrounded by all mum’s things and her beautiful energy, the tide turned. And now, I feel more present, more joyful – wanting, desiring, enjoying, being. And I have faith that all will be well. Even if I can’t always see how.