Discover more from The Wonder Habit™ by D. Michele Perry
How Grief Opened Me Up to Wonder
Grief has a strange way of ripping us open. The familiar becomes foreign, time speeds up and slows down simultaneously, and nothing is as it was or will ever be the same again.
(If you are dealing with grief, especially the loss of a parent, and at any time this post is too much, please be kind to yourself and know it’s totally fine to stop reading.)
Grief is nothing if not vulnerable. These last 3 years so many of us have seen more of it collectively than some do in whole lifetimes.
I have experienced nothing quite as untethering as losing my mother.
It was like the umbilical cord that kept me grounded to earth suddenly was gone and I was in danger of floating off the planet. I couldn’t find my bearings, my up or down, all reliable points of reference were gone.
My mom passed over Mother’s Day 2020 after a 5 year battle with metastatic breast cancer. It was one of the hardest things I have ever walked through. But I got to be by her side each step of the way and especially in 2020 with the pandemic raging as a wildfire, that was an immense privilege.
In this landscape of loss, grief became a gateway, an invitation to find a new way of being.
Sometimes it is our hardest moments that give us wings.
I wrote the following in my journal as I approached the 1st year anniversary of my mom’s death. It’s raw. I was raw. Some days, I still am.
I cried through part of a roll of Bounty Selectasize sheets typing this up tonight, and had many pauses for Charlie (my poodle) to kiss the tears off my face.
If you’re new here or are pondering why I share so deeply from my personal journey… I mix educational writing with more memoir style posts because the most powerful words are the ones I live out and put flesh on.)
Wonder is everywhere. Even in the hard places where we least expect it. And learning to seek out wonder is a skill we can hone.
If you have experienced recent grief or loss, you aren’t alone. It is OK for you to not be OK.
If you think it would be helpful to read words from another person who has experienced and continues to experience grief, I share them with the hope that they can provide, at the very least, a kind of solidarity.
I read this myself this evening for the first time since it was written. Now 2 years later, I can add that I am grateful so much beauty has been forged even in seasons of such pain. Grateful for the wonder waiting to be found.
A Letter to My Mother on the Anniversary of Her Passing
It was almost a year ago your earth cracked open and set you free.
Then, for me, the last year turned into a cocoon of sorts.
Somehow I reconciled things behind these 4 walls, as I put memories in folders, in boxes and organized my grief into manageable snippets.
But now driving familiar places, all our conversations and chatter hang in the car like ghosts. Vapors and mists from another lifetime.
The world is emptier, fuller, lonelier, and not as alone as it once was. And it will never be the same without you in it.
Having the world stop for a year, there was a strange safety in avoiding normal. No one had normal.
I’m so glad you didn’t have to walk through these last months… watching the world gone mad. Turned sideways, all spilled out, raw, and angry like a hive of poked bees.
My grief was held in suspended animation. But now as I shop in stores and drive by landmarks that no longer mark your presence, I am reminded again and again of all the places you aren’t.
Reminded that the world was falling into cataclysm as you faded towards the exit.
It’s the Sunday before Mother’s Day today, the anniversary of 36 hours I will never stop being grateful for. Grateful that I listened to the nudge in my soul to celebrate you a week early.
You sat on the edge of your seat and giggled like the little girl I don’t know you ever got to be. Elsa and Anna, Olaf and singing reindeer enraptured you. “It’s better than Broadway,” you exclaimed, clapping your hands in delight.
The Next Right Thing put words to my grief and fear and pain and the tsunami of what I knew was coming, and I choked back sobs so you wouldn’t see them.
Then you ate a few bites of the last meal we truly shared together. Though I didn’t know it completely then, the final stretch of your journey home had begun. Your slow trek homeward suddenly became a sprint.
A week later over Mother’s Day, I watched your tired earth crack open to give you wings. And I screamed at loss and God and the world because you were gone.
I filled up the emptiness with banshee-like wails, cursed at the void, at the space where you once were… and truthfully still are in so many ways I had not yet discovered.
My heart ached with such visceral violence I almost wished it would break open and set me free as well.
Now after a year of being esconded behind my four walls, I’m finding the deep ruts of where we shared so many memories and there, meeting new faces of my grief.
Many things in my world have changed this last year. You might not have agreed with all my choices, but I have to believe you are proud I made them— and that I’m still here.
That so many things have come full circle. That you and Dad are woven into my story, my business, into my being. You will never not be with me.
But still I miss and love you both more than languages have words.
(May 3, 2021)