Grief Handbook, Part XI

I’m beginning to realize that my grief “handbook” is more of a grief “memoir,” so I decided what I needed to do was add some discussions about how to handle grief.  Or, that is, in a less obnoxious “I know everything” way, how I handled grief, and am continuing to handle it.

For example, to return to my discussion of rituals, I am desperate for New Starts.  I constantly wish to start over, and my To Do lists (of which I have many, all neatly organized under their type on a white board), are full of New Starts: blogs, for example, or cleaning, or writing agenda.  All of these ideas help to lead to refreshing my life in some way, so that I feel new again.  I feel whole again.

But here’s the problem: I will never ever feel whole again.  My mother is gone.  I am now a motherless child, and despite all of the surrogate mothers I have out there–the aunts and moms by proxy and even, the never-met birth mother–I don’t have my mom.

A mom is different than a mother, isn’t she?  My mother had cool hands, as in temperature, not jazz-related.  When I would become ill, she would put those hands on my forehead and I would be comforted.  I always overheated, even as a child, even now.  I can’t snuggle while I sleep, and I always throw off my blankets.  As a baby, I couldn’t be swaddled, not even held when I slept.  So when I, in my fever, cried out, my mother placed those cool, cool hands on my head, and I was comforted, if not healed.

This is a poem I wrote several, several years ago for my mother and her cool hands.  I’ll share it with you now:


Una Cancion del Amor para una Mariposa


On Wednesday nights I

unzip my body and

lie in fields of lilies.

The white petals cover my face, forming a

veil not unlike my

mother’s hair. In my

fever she placed cold

hands on my forehead and

sang to me.

I became an angel,

silver lashes shielding the

benediction eyes which once

saved a child’s laughter.

My mother told me of a French peasant girl

who led armies to victory by

the age of 18–

yet I cannot even bring my

wings to fly across the ocean.

Instead, I stand on concrete, feet

rooted firmly on the ground.

I look up and

swim in blue crystalline waters.

I fall up and drown.


A yellow butterfly danced on my

fingertip once.

I wielded her like a sword



te amo mama

She sang to me.

I swore I heard her sing.

On Wednesday nights I

unzip my body and

wings sprout from my shoulders.

If a French peasant girl can

lead an army, then I

can be the heroine of my




in disguise.




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