Sunday, October 23, 2011

Magical Thinking and Grief

Life changes in the instant.
The ordinary instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

Joan Didion: The Year of Magical Thinking

It was a beautiful January morning when my life changed forever. The sky was blue, the air was crisp and snow had just blanketed the ground. I got the phone call. I was standing on the side street behind my work. I heard the words "suicide" "pronounced dead" and "identify the body." I dropped the phone. It smashed in to more pieces than I could pick up. It was an ordinary morning. I ate oatmeal for breakfast and flat ironed my hair. Life changed in the instant.

It has been just over ten months since that day when my life as I knew it ended. I thought I was coping somewhat well with the grief. I mean I have for the most part been able to pull myself together and be a competent and capable adult. But I too have been guilty of magical thinking.

You see even though I can pretend to be doing alright. The truth is that deep down I believe that if I change myself, if I make myself perfect for her, than she will come back. It is for this reason I haven't packed up her condo or moved a single item since she died. Her dresses are still hanging colour coded in her closet. Her perfume is still sitting on the table opened as she left it. Her laundry is still in the hamper. Her mug of lemon tea is still on the counter. It has to be this way so that she can come back and wear her dresses, drink her tea, spritz her perfume and do her laundry.

I have tried over the past ten months to become the perfect daughter. I have added to my goal list all of the things she wanted for me. But I haven't been able to become the perfect daughter for her. I can do a lot of the things she wanted. I can lose weight and be nicer to her family. But I can't undo the one thing she wanted most from me. She wanted me to recant. To say that she didn't abuse me. And I can't do that.

So now I am stuck in the middle between magical thinking and the reality that I will never be the perfect daughter my mom wanted me to and therefore she will never come back.


Loran said...

Eventually the magical thinking will turn to the reality that she was not a perfect mother any more than you are a perfect daughter. No one is perfect and that's ok. It will be ok.

Anonymous said...

All of those things you can do for her are great. But the one thing you can do for yourself is always speak the truth.
I think it's a pretty good balance.
What she never learned in this life is that even ugly truth can make the good things more beautiful.
Blessings to you and rest for her soul.

Lexi said...

Thank you both for your lovely and supportive comments.

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