My mom died on October 21, 2015.
Today is October 24, 2016.
A year has passed.
But let me tell you the funny thing about grief. Grief doesn’t project itself on October 21, 2016 at 11:00 am, a year later. No grief doesn’t show up like a bulldozer on that day, ready to drop a load of rocks on you, or scrape down your walls then. Because you know. You know it wants to arrive at your door that day, so you don’t let it. You arm your military that day- fixating hard on every email you need to write that day, the errands to the gas station and grocery store, the trip to the bank, and the fact that your water heater isn’t working again, exercise, car repair, new furniture. A year ago. Yep. A year ago. Yep. A text message. A phone call. Yep, yep yep. Fine, fine, fine. Yes, thank you, yes. Keep moving. Okay. Good. Let’s cross it off. Check.
It’s not the next day, either. Because the next day, all you can think is, “Wow, I did it. I made it through a year. Wow. I did it! And I didn’t forget her! Wow.” All day.
Another day goes by like this.
And then, you go check your bank statement, go get a book at the library, get your nails done on a Sunday afternoon, hang up Halloween decorations in the window. There it is. There’s the rock slide. Because you can feel their words. Not just hear them, feel them. You can feel her squirm with excitement when you tell her you got a bonus, her pride filling the air. You can feel her handing you a book, nodding, “you’ll like it”, as you hand one back to her. You feel the eye roll the daughter gives her mother when she says something conservative about shade Wildfire Red being a little suggestive. You want to pick up your own bottle of Tickle Me Pink and chuck it across the room, screaming, “Don’t roll your eyes at her! You’re gonna miss her telling you to ‘be aware of your surroundings’ or to not ‘look desperate’ or to ‘give it time’—trust me. I promise. You’re gonna miss it.” You’ll carry two boxes worth of Halloween decorations into a classroom and stay until the sun has set hanging them up because you can hear her say, “They love it! Remember how you loved it?! Just be patient and do a nice job. Who else is going to do this for them? They love it. Do it for me”. So you hang the leaf shaped window-clings and the black cats with raised fur that felt so real when you were a kid to make her proud.
No grief is sneakier than big dates, holidays, or anniversaries. Grief lingers in the small details. Because that’s where love lingered, too.