Yesterday morning, I made my daily call to my Mom. This ritual sews the stitches of my routine. The call may last for seconds on some mornings, other days our conversations linger a little longer. Yesterday it took the turn that I expected, but still could not handle. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of my father’s passing. I asked my mother how she felt and with those three words, her tears spilled out over the phone. A quiet sob punctuated her breath. Although we are miles apart, the texture of her anguish felt as if she sat next to me with tears streaming down her face. She followed her sobs with, “You know, Rudri, you just start remembering all the memories that you’ve shared. I can’t believe he isn’t here.” I will never understand the grief that my mom experiences as she charts her path into widowhood. I can sympathize, but I know I will fall short.
The sadness that comes from loss is unyielding. It occurs in those moments when you are in the middle of something. I watch my daughter ride her bike and recall how my Dad pushed my red Huffy bike down the street until I could maneuver it on my own. On Sunday mornings, as I finish up my run, the newspapers that litter people’s driveways catch my attention. Sunday mornings at my house meant I fetched the paper outside of the house while everyone slept. I retrieved the comics section and the Parade section and laid it on the dining table so my father could drink his tea and shift through his favorite sections. Other times, no identifiable triggers may melancholy and I will say out loud, “I miss him.”
In the last few years, my angst turns me toward gratitude. Certain moments crystallize into greater clarity. I am not afraid to say I love you to those that matter in my life. Walking my daughter into her classroom and giving her a kiss on her cheek, offers a joy that I cannot explain. It is a privilege to mother. Witnessing sunrises, sunsets, and the light-blue sky, fills me with an eye toward wonder. Waking up, drinking my coffee, and writing offers a pleasure I am not certain I can explain. These moments are wholly ordinary, but I think when you experience the undercurrent of sadness, you learn to pay attention to the threads that string the succession of days. Sometimes I want to scream to those that are around me, pay attention to this minuscule moments. Washing dishes, talking with a friend on the phone, taking a walk, helping your children get dressed, breathing, sleeping, and collapsing in a huge belly laugh is the space where gratitude lives.
Even that phone call with my mom, I understand that gratitude carves out a space in between her sobs. Grateful that I can listen and she can share what she knows I will not completely understand.