Today I had the first frank conversation I've had with my Mom in a long time. Normally I don't bother to come to her with my problems, because she really doesn't care to hear them. It's always been, "Well of course you're hurt, but for God's sake, why are you telling me?!" The only exception to that norm is death. My mom has lost more people in her life than your average hospital, she is no stranger to grief. She says that it takes you when you least expect. You try to stuff it down, but it consumes you, and you fall apart. I was suprised by her candor, I had expected to hear a short sound-bite about how 'they are better off where they are,' and 'you can take comfort that they didn't suffer.'
I used to think that death didn't affect her. She talks about losing her mother at the age of eight to skin cancer like it's a clinical study on melonoma. She has no trouble reciting every detail of the car crash that killed her best friend and her friend's entire family. She streams the names of dead relatives and their ailments every time I have a cough or a fever. I just thought she was immune. It's funny the lengths that people will go when they think they are protecting you.
She taught me all those years to see death as a passing fascination, something to be studied and proded with sticks, but not to be feared or felt.
And now we make a u-turn. We talk about seeking out others to discuss your feelings, taking the time to experience the different stages of loss, and understanding that the pain never really goes away.
I'm still not entirely sure how to reconcile what I've been taught to feel, and what I'm feeling now.