8000 Days of Grieving
Grief is mercurial. My mom’s May birthday often falls on Mother’s Day. The anniversary of her passing is soon after. Some years, these difficult days just are. Then it’s a new day. Other years, the month of May is incredibly heavy. I tread water until the calendar turns to June.
This year, when I think of her, I wonder who Eve Bindursky Coleman, the person, was when she wasn’t on mom duty. I wonder what she’d be like at age 69. I wonder in what ways my life would be different if breast cancer had ravaged her body but not taken her life two decades ago.
Recently, I had the following text exchange with a friend who is newly grieving her beloved grandmother. She asked me how I find peace with my mom’s loss. The truth is, I don’t:
Any time I think I’ve made peace with my loss, life throws something new to experience, fight, conquer or accept at me, and the black hole of missing her is felt anew. The weight of my grief has lightened over the years. It’s not as raw, but it doesn’t go away. I change year to year, so it makes sense that my grief does too. In my late 30s, I’ve become OK with the part of me that doesn’t find peace with most things in life. That’s just me, take me or leave me.
Vivienne and Evangeline, her grandmother’s namesake, are now old enough to hear stories about Grandma Eve. I tell them the ladybugs that land on us and the redbirds that preen in our backyard are good luck because they remind me of her. They join me to high-five the weeping willows in Audubon Park because Grandma Eve and I loved to picnic under the one near our backyard (until the new neighbors cut it down to build a pool).
My girls know that the folk and country songs I sing to them, like “Show Me the Way to Go Home” (words changed from “had me a drink about an hour ago” to “had me some milk…”) and “Some Days are Diamonds” (the right song for rough days) were ones my mom sang to me.
Like a game of telephone, the stories I share will change a little with each retelling. Eight thousand days is a long, long time to live without the person you cherished most. The facts get hazy, the memories blur. While I hope not to burden my daughters with my grief or scare them that I could die young too, I do hope that they also keep my mom’s memory alive, for many thousands more days.