It's not the same.
The world did not stop when Mom died and sometimes that just seems so unfair.
Instead life kept rushing forward and I tried to keep up, tried to pretend nothing had changed. But of course it has.
Something – someone – is missing.
There is a hole in my life – bigger, deeper than before.
This is the new normal.
But every day is a new normal.
Things change, in big ways and in small, all the time. We adapt. We change. We accept.
When Mom first started to fail I would get so angry.
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” I would think, all full of Dylan Thomas and daughterly angst. “Do not go gentle into that good night.”
My rage was big, and loud, and physical, and angry.
Now I realize she did rage.
But her rage was small, and quiet, and peaceful, and accepting.
And a blessing.
Her rage wasn't a fight to avoid change like I wanted, but a fight to accept change. To face the end with dignity and grace.
She raged against the dying of the light by accepting the limits of physical change, but not letting it change who she was inside.
She made the most of what she still had. And she could still make people happy.
She could care. Smile. Laugh.
At her burial, as the minister said those last few words, as we said our last good byes, we accepted the physical change in our universe – her passing would leave a big, black, sucking emptiness where her body used to be. (Was her ever-shrinking body supposed to make that empty spot smaller? It didn't.)
But the emotional change, the emptiness in my heart, how could I accept that?
An ice cream truck approached from down the hill, the familiar notes of “Turkey in the Straw” ringing cheerfully across the quiet cemetery.
The air under the funeral home's tent, stifling with heat and sorrow just a moment before, changed, vibrated with barely suppressed giggles at the absurd juxtaposition.
“Dorothy would be the first one at that truck, buying us all ice cream,” said my friend-family-sister Sue.
We laughed aloud in recognition and relief.
Because that is exactly what she would have done.
Exactly what she would want us to do.
Make the most of what we still had: each other.
Make people happy. Care about them. Ask about them. Listen to them.
Buy them ice cream.
Accept the new normal.