Saturday, April 1, 2017


Like the tentacles of an earthquake, the aftershocks of a death come unexpectedly and with a randomness hard to fathom.

Yesterday,  I was stopped in the lobby of my building by a neighbor, who spent a moment offering condolences on the loss of my mother. After finishing the conversation, I walked away and suddenly thought to myself  "can I leave work a little early to get to mom's today."

When I related that tale to my sister, we both began to cry. She told me that the day before she had picked up a big chocolate chip cookie and decided she would, as she had for so many years, split it with mom when she visited.

Starting to go through my mom's apartment, finding her second grade photo, the letters from my dad written during the war, before they were even married, ruminating on his longing for the end of conflict and a safe and secure return home to his beloved and dreaming of the life that lay ahead, the letter from my sister at the end of 10 weeks in Europe pouring out her heart in thanks to our parents for the gifts they had given her, not only that summer but every year of her life, all of these buried treasures bring out more emotion in me than I ever anticipated.

There is a well of sadness that has not reached bottom,  a wound tender to the touch, a heart that is hurting.

This weekend I will head up to the Berkshires, a trip I have taken on literally hundreds of occasions during my mom's decade long descent. And on each one of those journeys, there was a part of me worried about her well being and anxious to return to New Jersey early enough on Sunday to be with her before she went to bed. But not this weekend. And it is a strange and uncomfortable sensation knowing that there is one less reason to leave Massachusetts, one less weight on my shoulders. I have been carrying it with me for so long, even as it is no longer there, I can still feel it. Like someone who has lost a limb but swears the phantom sensation is real.

Most of each day is unimpacted by her passing. I returned to work to face the same petty annoyances, the same daily rituals that greeted me before. But, in the lunch area of the office, I left a picture of my mom and me, without statement. It generated many responses and insinuated my mom's presence into everyone's conscience. Yesterday, I moved the picture back to its rightful place near my desk. 

I know the residual signs of an earthquake soon disappear, any damage is repaired and life, at least on the surface, returns to an earlier, more tranquil state. But nothing is really ever fully unaffected by that earthquake even long after it's last tremors have dissipated.

My mom is gone and the world is, to the untrained eye, no different. Until the next aftershock.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful words


Anonymous said...

Even today, more than 10 years after my last parent's death, I think I am supposed to give them a call.


Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much you are helping me and so many others by expressing your grief.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's so beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, a really lovely, compelling and fitting tribute to your mother.


Marcia Allar said...

Giving words to what we all feel is so very helpful to us. Don't think it ever goes away...just lessens but I still think: I have to tell Tim or Dad that. And get into grief pits out of nowhere. Please keep writing about this as so few do!