While my mom was dying, my biggest question was how I was supposed to live without her.
I came back to New York in August for two weeks, before coming back more recently for good. On my first return, everything felt surreal. I felt like I no longer belonged in my old life. There’s still a little of that feeling, but I’ve gotten a chance to reconnect with my friends—so many of whom have lost loved ones of their own. I’ve gotten to see how they go through their days, laugh and smile and love, while always keeping a part of themselves in honor of those loved ones. I’ve seen that I can do the same.
Sometimes I’m just going about my day, grocery shopping or working or walking somewhere, and it’ll just hit me. This happened to her. It happened. Then I cry, no matter where I am. I’ve cried in cafés; in the subway and on the street. In the soda aisle of the grocery store. What I love about New Yorkers is they mostly leave you alone when you’re on a public crying jag.
I have projects coming up that I’m excited about. A podcast, a music video, a party to plan, a few photo shoots; a new writing adventure and the same one I’ve been in love with since the beginning. And readings.
I was having a conversation with a friend earlier, and just had the thought: what if this is how I live without her? What if life just goes on, and it’s friends, and projects, and work, and occasional crying jags, on and on through time? What if the other shoe doesn’t drop? What if I never wake up crippled by grief? What if living without her isn’t something I need to know how to do—it’s just something I do?
My mom was the closest person in the world to me. She is never coming back. If I’m not crippled by grief, it doesn’t mean I didn’t love her and that I’m not devastated by this. It means we are all built to survive profound loss, and grief does not ruin us.
I’ve been back in New York for three weeks, and what these weeks are teaching me is that life goes on, whether you want it to or not. I don’t want to live without my mom, but I don’t get the choice. There is no “how.” The question is meaningless. You just live.