Image courtesy of Paul Graham Morris. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.
My mother died this week. I have been trying to come up with an appropriate response to this that I might post on the blog, but of course there isn’t one. It’s awful. I will probably fail to feel the weight of its awfulness until a few months or years from now. That is–I am told–the course of these things. Thankfully I do not know from firsthand experience prior to this point.
Cancer is an awful disease, and at my mother’s insistence I refuse to categorize her experience with it as a battle, though research and anecdata both tell me that this is the Done Thing. It was a bareknuckle fight with an asshole of a disease.
I try to avoid cursing on the blog in general, but really, fuck biliary cancer.
I was trying to describe my feelings about this to a friend this past week. My friends have been lovely through this whole ordeal, but particularly in the past week. But, as they visit, I feel like I should be Appropriately Mournful. Wearing black, stoically refusing to cry, staring into the distance blankly.
Certainly, sometimes I am like that. But generally speaking, I’m not. I have been going about my business. Today I went on a cemetery tour, and tried to go to a Shakespeare performance. I did not weep during either of these things. In the middle of them, I ate a catfish po’boy.
The best way that I can describe it is with an analogy from 8th grade earth science. It is as follows: there is a difference between climate and weather. Climate is the overall condition of a place, whereas weather is the immediate happenings. So, for example, Georgia is a temperate climate–this does not invalidate the fact that the weather was crummy today, and my Shakespeare in the Park performance was rained out. The weather can go against the general climate. Atlanta can have a rainy May.
And in this situation, my grief is the climate. It is there in the background, and will probably continue to be there for a few months, or a year, or the rest of my life. But the weather is pretty variable–and generally cheery. I can’t be overwhelmed with sadness all the time, because sometimes I have to keep it together and go grocery shopping. If my climate and my weather merged, I would lose my mind. And I don’t want to do that. Sometimes I just need to try to go see a play or decorate my new apartment or take a nap.
So, that’s where I am right now. No doubt it will vary greatly over the next few months–how, I can’t predict, since I was always awful at meteorology.