Right now, I’m sitting at my computer in my home office. Next to my laptop are a few items that I have decorated my desk with. Each item gives me some kind of inspiration, motivation, or just comfort. I have a globe, a small Buddha statue, and vintage figures of both Luke Skywalker and Godzilla. It’s my happy little nerd zen space. Recently a new item found its way onto my desk.

Just to the right of my computer, is my mom’s Casio wristwatch. She has owned several exactly like it over the years. This, however, is the one I brought back from the hospital when she didn’t come home. September 8th, 2022, my mother passed away. Earlier that day, phone calls were being made and treatment plans were in place for the physical therapy she would undergo for the next two weeks as she built her strength up to return to independent living.

That night, however, her heart stopped. We gathered at the hospital arriving too late to say goodbye and just a few short days later gathered in a larger group to honor the memory of the woman who raised me alone and touched the lives of so many. After blurred days of dealing with what happened and what to do next, It’s time to get back to work. Life goes on and bills keep coming. As I sit here to write, I hear the chime of that Casio marking the hour and it somehow feels wrong that I should hear it but not her.

It feels like I should be hearing that sound while she is at my house playing with grandkids, falling asleep in my recliner, or just telling me the same story for the 9-billionth time (which I now miss.) It seems surreal when the one person who has been a constant part of your life since birth is gone. I also have to reflect on the fact that I would likely not be a writer today if it had not been for her. A writer herself, she inspired me to pour my imagination onto the page and to create.

Now, I realize how difficult it is to tap into that imagination when the real world has become unimaginable. Never before have I been at such a loss for words. It’s at times like these in which we become self-critical and have this unreasonable expectation that we should be able to jump right back into our normal lives. This is an unfortunate human tendency to at least lightly salt our own wounds. We allow ourselves a moment to grieve and then act like something’s wrong with us when we get that lip tremble in the middle of the day because of a song on the radio, or when we can’t sleep or can’t get up in the morning because our pain is too heavy.

The thing that occurs to me right now is that those who are worth shedding tears over are the ones who accept us and love us without condition. Those that we grieve for would not demand more than we have to give. Now, as I look at this Casio watch next to me, I remember the bells in Buddhist monasteries that ring to remind those nearby to stop and embrace the present moment. When I hear that familiar chime again, I will take it as a reminder that it is okay to be where I am right now.

Furthermore, I want to tell anyone who has taken the time to read this, that whatever you may be going through, it’s okay to be where you are and to feel how you feel. If you have lost someone close to you, don’t try to “move on.” Instead, move when you are ready, be kind to yourself, and hold onto the love they gave you. Trust that they would want nothing less from you.

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