In a few short weeks I will be 28 years old.
28 is a complicated age for me. When I turn 28 I will have lived as many years on this earth without my mother as I have with her and sometimes that is a difficult thing to bear. As I get older my relationship with my grief is altering. People tell you that grief shrinks over time, but I don’t think it moves in such a linear way. Sometimes my grief is pinprick hole behind my lungs and sometimes it fills oceans. Lately, even though more time has passed, my grief has been growing. I often wonder what it would have been like to relate to my mother as a woman and not as a girl. Most people’s relationship with their parents changes a lot once you can relate on adult terms and I feel the loss of that opportunity. On the other hand, While I only have a child’s memories of my mother to fall back on, it is interesting to me that as I get older my relationship with the person who she was changes even though she is not here. We are so different my mother and I and there are things about her that I can never hope to understand but parts of her do begin to make sense to me as I live and grow as a person.
28 was also the age my mother was when she had me and I look over the last words that she left me and wish I had had the opportunity to talk more to her about what that was like. In the few pages I have that she wrote, she mentioned that while she was carrying me, her first child, she was filled with fear and hope and excitement. It was only six months after I was born that she left me with my grandmother and came to New Zealand to be with my father. I can only imagine what it could have been like for her, a new migrant to New Zealand, a young mother in 1987. Those are stories that only she would have been able to tell me. Life must have been so difficult and different.
These are things you can’t really talk about with people who haven’t lost someone close to them because after 14 years shouldn’t all that is left be the faintest of scars? People seem to think that grief should be like an old injury that only twinges sometimes when the weather is cold. 14 years later how can this still be the biggest landmark of my life? How can I still mark my time in the distance from it? Surely there are other things that have eclipsed it by now. It’s not surprising that people think that way, the narrative that we are always fed is that “time heals all wounds” and perhaps that is true for some, but that has not been my experience. Time might heal but it also leaves it’s own bruises.