It’s been almost three months, and I was stopped by some co-workers the other day asking how my mom was doing. I thought I would be able to say, “Oh, sorry you didn’t hear, but she died in April” and then just go on with my day, but then the inevitable questions come: “What happened? She looked so good...! We thought she was getting better...”
So I politely stop to explain; yes, it was sudden. Yes, she was getting better, then she wasn’t. Yes, thank you for your condolences. And suddenly all the pain and grief and doubt and anger and self-questioning come back. Then come the tears, and I have to find a place to quietly get myself back together before trying to get back to work.
But, my focus is gone for the moment. In a job where lives matter on you being able to think clearly and rationally, you can’t be thinking about your dead mother and reliving the moment of her death. You can’t be trying to rationalize your decisions during that last week over and over when there’s a full department and ambulances coming in. You can’t stop to contemplate for the 100th time what might have been, what could have been, what should have been if you could have kept her from falling back in December.
But, you’re human, and it takes a few moments to get your emotions under control so that you can work. There’ll be plenty of time for those thoughts that come out of nowhere and suddenly make the tears start to fall. There’ll be lots of nights thinking about the what if’s... There’ll be the rest of my life to grieve the sudden loss of someone who’d always been there my whole life.... and, right now, that seems like a very long time...