My mother died ten days ago and I haven’t cried. What I mean to say is that I have shed some tears, but I haven’t wept. I know that grief has its own path, but it feels wrong that I have been so business-like and dry-eyed. For reasons of my own I am re-reading the Odyssey, and there is in Homeric literature an understanding that weeping and tears are essential tributes to the dead. Not crying is wrong.
People tell me that she was a great age and it is natural. That is true. But death is unwelcome. Someone reminded me yesterday of a happy event a few months past, and my heart went straight to the distinction between now and then: My mother is gone now. Then, she was on this earth, only a phone call or a drive away. Now she is gone forever, unreachable, untouchable, all hurts and old wounds now frozen into permanent scars, all love and tenderness irrelevant.
Our priest asked us at the cemetery whether we wanted to stay to watch her lowered into the earth, and to the dismay of my sister, I said yes, and everyone else felt compelled to stay at my wish. We tucked her in next to my father, the hard edge of his vault visible after six years, a blanket of orange and magenta roses waiting to be laid across her grave.
My tribute, I suppose, is still unpaid. I think it will burst upon me like a sudden storm, splattering innocent passersby whether they are sympathetic or not.
And that is the way of grief.