Have not seen anything blooming yet, holding on still. I hang on to hope that beneath the surface the earth will explode soon and push through some flowers and new life, waking me up and smoothing over some broken lines. I picture myself like Raku pottery, taking on a pleasing glaze but intrinsically crackled and aged in fire. My body is an empty vessel sculpted of earth, water and wispy dreams.

So on Wednesday I will have been here on earth for fifty years. I remember when my parents and their circle of friends, in turn, turned fifty and celebrated joining a “half-century” club. There seemed to be a natural blend of apprehension and self-acceptance in the air. I wish I could wrestle with and tousle my age and experience this birthday without having lost my little girl. But this is my path, this time around.

I am not afraid of death anymore. A few years ago I was afraid, and would become aware of this with each birthday. Motherhood and family life had brought me into a concrete and earthly place which I did not want to surrender. Meeting my soulmate, two sequential perfect babies after forty (there were no medical interventions, they were like angels dropping in) and home ownership. The latter two were subsidized by what some of the young artist folk I knew would call a “straight job”. Having a family is awesome. Please, if you are on the fence about having a family, just have one. Although I have always been a struggler who hesitates to express contentment, the thought of this life having to end used to scare me and make me want to resist.

So, first there was the Sandy flood. The physical home repairs were measurable and reparable, but the knowledge that structures and people can be swallowed by the ocean changed my sense of security. Sometimes I can see the experience as a precursor, preparing me for the horror and loss to come.

When Susanna died, it is no exaggeration to say that part of me died too. There is no longer a me who bops around in light-hearted innocent joy. I do not love life. This is okay. I am here for spring no matter how I feel. I am here to help my son, who is growing up like a champ, and my partner. If someone asks my help I give it as I am able. I pay bills and complete tasks. I cry a lot every day, but I laugh a little every day too.

Lately I listen to music and feel it like I did as a teenager. Especially the pop songs written by young lovelorn artists. I hear them and remember what it felt like when something romantic ended or did not work out. This is why people love Adele. That pain (most of us have been there) is not only universal but it is the big one which follows us through lifetimes and ages. Enough love is always there, a given, but we dread being separated from those we want to be with. Who wants that? Still we incarnate and greet loss, over and over. Living is worth it.

I am not afraid of my birthday, and not afraid to be mortal. I want to spend my birthday with my daughter here and there is no remedy for this. I will find her where I can. She has changed to light and sunshine, and sometimes I can feel her. We know each other in the elements, impermanent. Someday I will hug her again, for real.


By trishfreer

Mother, writer, artist and teacher grappling with grief and loss.

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