The year of first’s is over. First Christmas without mom, her first birthday coming and going without her here to celebrate it, the first baby born in our family without mom around to fuss over her, and now the first anniversary of her death. Last year at this time I was in a small emergency room watching my mother gasp for each breath, looking a doctor in the eye and saying yes, I understood what it meant if they didn’t put her on a respirator and instead gave her meds to help her go to sleep. Of course I only knew what it meant in the moment, which was that it would end my mother’s many months of suffering, but for those of us who loved her it was the beginning of the grieving process which is really just one long bumpy road of goodbyes. At the end of one of my books I write: Some eight years later, when the earthly lives of my daddy and brother had safely made that transformation from flesh and blood to mist and memory, when the grief had finally settled itself comfortably into the undercurrent of my days and nights, my voice came back to me and I picked up a notebook, opened it to the first page, and I began to write. I’m not quite there yet…but I’m getting there.
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