There are only a few hours left in 2011. December has felt unmercifully long, and yet I also feel hesitant to plunge into the first month, the first year without my mom.
December 30th was the anniversary of my first marriage, which was brief and came to a painful demise. Out of respect to husbands past and present, I will say little about the relationship, but my recent experience with grief has moved me to a deeper understanding in what happened with my ex husband. See, he lost his father, who was nearly the same age as my mother, while we were still married. Both died in December– my father-in-law suddenly, on a sidewalk, while out running on an unusually warm day in Minnesota; my mother slowly and peacefully, in her own bed, on a cool, rainy day in Arizona.
One of the often-repeated arguments at the end of the marriage involved my ex-husband accusing me of not understanding his grief– “I just lost my father!” I had a full repertoire of responses, some of which were far from compassionate. I think once I actually snarled “I don’t give a shit!” To be fair, he was making choices that were incredibly hurtful and destructive to both of us. But in the end, he was right about one thing– I didn’t understand. I knew he was hurting, but also thought he was using grief as an excuse for his behavior. Maybe he was partially. But not entirely.
Well, I get it now. Even if I had understood back then how it felt to lose a parent, it wouldn’t have changed the course of events that brought us to where we are today– not married to each other. But maybe I would have been a bit nicer to him. And that would have been, well, nice.
I feel Mom is helping me go deeper in my healing from that old loss. This understanding doesn’t change the past, but looking at it from a perspective of more clarity and compassion dispels whatever old angers might be lurking there, so I can be more happy, more content, more trusting, and move forward in life with lightness and hope.