Today marks a hundred days since my mum was taken from us. The fact that I've written so little since then, and spent very little time networking, should give some idea of how well I've been handling it. As of today, I'm still lapsing into the present tense when she comes up in conversation. I'm still expecting her to answer the phone when I call my dad. I'm still thinking she'll be there when I walk through their front door.
Last night, one of my girls asked me whether grandma could come back now, please. She already knew the answer. She was just hoping, beyond hope, that life could go back to normal. Normality is a curious concept. It implies predictability, stability, comfort. It's a place where everything makes sense.
Oddly enough, that doesn't describe the real world very well at all. While we struggle with painful emotions, while we desperately try to adapt to a situation we've never been through before, we crave something that doesn't exist. I can't help but think that, natural as it is, it's nevertheless a self-destructive behaviour. If overcoming grief depends on achieving normality, then are we doomed forever to be heartbroken?
I've experienced heartbreak before. In fact, I've experienced heartbreak without proper closure before. Sometimes things just can't go back to the way they were. The event itself changes you. I experienced an extremely painful relationship breakup a decade ago; she was someone I loved very deeply, that I had envisaged marrying and having a life with. It wasn't to be, and I was changed forever. That I then met, fell in love with and married someone else doesn't undo what happened.
I'm beginning to realise that losing a parent is another of those times when things really will never be the same. We may think we know what we want. We may think we need a return to normality. But what we really need is to find a way to accept that things are as they are. Because my mum was still young, I assumed she would be around a long time yet, watching her grandchildren grow up, and interfering whenever she got the chance.
It wasn't to be, and we have been changed forever. Somehow, we have to find a new normal.