Today is my Unofficial (Official) Expiration Date.
I knew today would come. All summer, I waited for today, this Sunday, the last day before the new semester starts. I had all summer, you see, to mourn my mother, and I expected today to be the last day of it. The day to finally pick myself up by my bootstraps and bring my head in from the rain.
But there is no expiration on mourning. There is no stop to the pain.
I don’t know how to explain how I feel to someone who has not experienced this sort of loss before. I am screaming, all the time. I am in pain, all the time. I hurt, I cry, I bleed guilt and shame and hurt and remorse all the time. This constancy of it all, I think, is the worst of it. There is no escape.
I haven’t read a book for fun in over three months. The last time that happened I didn’t know how to read yet. Books have been a constant, an ever-present constant, in my life, for as long as I can remember. Even before the times I can remember are those I can only fancy, but I know books were there. Books, and my mother.
My mother was not a reader, not like me. But she and my father believed in the power of reading. My dad used to say, “If you can read well, you can teach yourself anything.” This is also the man who has never read a book for enjoyment (but has read the entirety of the Louisiana Tax Code). Both of them encouraged my reading obsession. My mother read to me, apparently, when I was just a baby, sitting me on her lap, reading, reading, reading.
The guilt is the worst. There is nothing but guilt every time I try to move on with my life. And that is the catch, isn’t it? I have to. I have to move along with my life because it’s my life. I am still living, though she is dead. But I have not been able to allow myself to be distracted from my grief. I have not given myself permission. Ergo, I haven’t read for pleasure.
Reading is my favorite escape. And I have denied myself since my mother died because some part of me feels that I don’t deserve to escape.
There is shame, too, in grieving, and that, I never knew. It is such a private affair, and I have made it so public, by posting blogs, comments on Facebook, writing her obituary. Crying in public, today at Panera with my best friend, Sunny. Then later, in her car, crying, partly for new pain, and partly for old. It was in her car, you see, that I first found out about my mother’s death.
School starts tomorrow, and with that, fall will soon come. I love Autumn in the way only a girl who grew up in swampy Southern Louisiana can love Autumn. It means the beginning of cooler weather, of cuter clothes (I do so love boots, and sweaters, and jeans), of better foods (soups, and hot cocoa and squashes). But as I’ve always loved to read, so, too, have I always loved school, and Fall is symbolic, almost holy to me. The start of Something New. The end of Summer.
An expiration date.
And it’s here, now.