The space they leave remains wholely theirs and yet expands to include us all.
This morning I cried for my Mum. It’s been three and a half years since my Mum passed away and the tears can still come from out of nowhere.
I had just dropped the boys off at school and with a coffee in hand on my way to a run it didn’t seem like a sad moment. But the mind does what it does and I found myself describing, in my head to absolutely no one, the solidity, the reliability, the sense of “I can’t fall far”, that just arriving in the kitchen to a bottomless pot of tea, a permanently boiling kettle and a chat with Mum, could set everything to right again.
The space Mum leaves is like a hole in the fabric of the world. And that’s a good thing. A Mum shaped hole because that space belonged to her, now lacks her, and yet will belong to her forever. Perhaps on the last day of the universe, there will remain all the shapes of us that made up history, the space we inhabited that moved and connected to the spaces of others.
The reverberations of grief: The tears that can come of out nowhere years later are a tribute to the role she played in my life and the lives of many others. It wasn’t that she was a social butterfly in her elder years – far from it. Hers was a gentle power, but one that echoes onwards through me, my children and perhaps in times to come, through my children’s children.
The Totality of Tribe
“Do you want to be buried with my people?” is a joke cheesy chat-up line that I hope has never been used. My husband and I recently spoke about where we wanted to be buried and both of us chose our family burial plots. As a reflection of the previous times, each “family” burial plot was in fact the patriarchal plot. So whether or not the invitation to be “buried with my people” was ever overtly spoken in those days, it was certainly the assumption.
So was our wish to be buried, not together but alongside our parents something to worry about? Shouldn’t we want to be buried together? Perhaps not. The people that we are; the bodies, the postures, the genes, the expressions, the lilts, the tilts, the twists of the tongue, are all products of our tribes. Our tribes are our source, our history, our explanation – and sometimes our excuse.
I am forever grateful to feel, if not know, that we will be together wherever the afterwards might be. But in this world, I am of my own tribe. I am more them than other. This hasn’t changed. For all the highlighting of previously unnoticed habits, family-long traditions, assumptions and philosophies that marriage shows us, for all the edges it smooths on us, we are still shaped by our familial tribes. Him by his, and me by mine. But I know this: The shape we leave will fit us all; friends, family and all whom we have known or connected to in any way. And now it includes you.
If you are struggling with the grief of a bereavement, please make sure to tell someone.
Here’s the link to a Poem I wrote which I hope will bring comfort to those who grieve the loss of a loved one: