Today I realized it’s finally over––that long, protracted period of grief I’ve been in. For a long time now, I haven’t worn black or scratched my face or wailed like women seeing their dead––but the grief was there––bearable, stiff upper lip, no need to bother the neighbors. Like a scar one learns to ignore or a limp one forgets one has––the grief of the loss of my nuclear family, the family Karleen made with her second husband atop her first husband’s heart, dragging in her child whether she wished to be there or not, creating her son.
I pushed and pulled, worked and cried, ignored and dreamed to make that marriage work because I’d destroyed one to make one. So much investment of time and effort, so much giving up of hope and yet so much joy in mothering my children. Yes, that’s what I mourned––the marriage was the frame of my motherhood, and when it smashed, my motherhood was essentially over––though my son could have used some supervision and guidance, but I didn’t know how to mother a teenager––how to be quietly firm––hold fast in spite of his dislike––too wounded there myself.
Anyway, the grief is done. I got the rest of my life out of storage this week––the baskets I used to collect, baby clothes, glass blown brandy snifters from Murano––that time when I’d crossed my fingers that the marriage might make it. I got them out of a fifteen-year storage and am giving it all away––the first Christmas ornaments I ever bought at a Denton dime store, little objets d’art that are beautiful, books, my children’s toys, things, things, things.
All going away, out of my life, out of my psyche. I can’t put up a Christmas tree yet. Perhaps I never will. But I’ve moved on–-out of the valley, out of the shadow–-some subtle shift. Those days are gone, my mother days, my younger woman days, my own dear family days, and I gave them their due mourning. Much about them––my children––was absolutely beautiful, stunning, and it took me forever and fifteen years to sing the death song that had to be sung. I don’t regret a single thing––a single sad, distraught piece of it. It is my quilt–-my woman’s quilt––I make this life, the good and bad and sad and lovely of it. Sing a song of six pence, a pocket full of rye. four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie–-sing a song of Karleen. I have.