It’s not like I didn’t know that mom’s funeral would be a tough day. I had plenty of forewarning – all the planning and preparation, thinking back on funerals I’d attended and how this one would be so much more intense, knowing my brother’s comments were sure to make me cry…
I went into last Thursday knowing it was going to tear me up. I accepted that.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the extraordinary pain of watching my own children grieve for their grandmother.
My God, some days women carry a weight that would crush lesser souls. How I made it through that service is a mystery to me.
But not because I was saying goodbye to my mom.
I stood in that pew, in a church my mother barely saw before she became homebound, to bear witness to her final mass. Through my overwhelming cloud of grief I looked down to see my children’s faces crumpling beside me, and a strength I didn’t know I had held me up so that I could press them to my side. My chest was tight with pain – the constant, throbbing hurt of letting go – while I held those kids and prayed I could carry their pain, too.
Impossible, I know, so I settled for standing with them as they walked through the fire. Squeezing Bear just a little more tightly when another wave of grief would hit her. Wrapping my arm around T-man as he fought back tears.
Wishing like hell they didn’t have to hurt so much, but thanking God they loved their grandma enough to feel her loss that deeply.
This was the part I hadn’t factored in. My parents were older when they had me, and we were older when we started our family. But I hadn’t done the math.
I got lost in the preparations for mom’s funeral and in the process somehow missed that I would have to stand with my young children in that space. That the mama in me would take their pain and add it to my own, helping them carry their sorrow through the hour before moving back out into the day.
I forgot that my own mama taught me to be a mom who would look to her children first, standing strong for them, holding them through their heartache.
It’s left me in an oddly suspended state. Since I didn’t really grieve at mom’s funeral her loss keeps sneaking up on me, hitting me over and over again. Then again, maybe I’d be feeling this way even if I’d fallen apart last week. I guess I’ll never know.
But I do know this. It was all those years with my mom – a woman who was so strong for so long – that gifted me the fortitude to stay on my feet last week.