“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. … We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes.”
I oh-so-resonate with Joan Didion; she shares this in The Year Of Magical Thinking.
My mom was a very strong personality. After she suddenly died, as her executor I took on the responsibility for cleaning out and packing up her condo. Implementing the decisions mom and my siblings and I made about who got what. Talking to realtors and putting her gorgeous home up for sale.
And all the time, even though I intellectually knew she was dead, gone from this world, I kept expecting her to walk in and demand to know in that affronted, imperious voice, “Whatever do you think you’re doing?!!?!!” And then I would have to give her some really good excuse for my actions. Something better, much better than “Why, I thought you were dead … they told me you were dead …”
And I would have to convince everyone to give her stuff back to her … unsell her condo … and refurnish it exactly as it had been the morning she went into the hospital for that routine heart procedure. On that beautiful July morning when I had no idea what was in store for my mother, for our family, for me, in the very near future.
Yes, I was crazy with loss and I was cool. I did what had to be done and I planned how to answer my mother … should it be necessary. How I wished it had been necessary.