Grief Handbook, Part 15

When I was a child, about ten or eleven, I had a little journal with a tiny brass lock and key.  I loved that journal; I foolishly believed whatever secrets I departed within would remain secret.  They didn’t, of course.  The journal itself was rather silly.  I didn’t understand the fine art of diary writing, and so I would sketch timeframes and write “JUST OK” on those pages.  Clearly, the beginning of a fine writer indeed.

But one thing I would do would be to write letters to my long-deceased grandmother Louise, after whom I’m named (the “L” in Amy L. Montz).  I never met her; she died when my dad was just a boy.  But I imagined this entire life for her, and in this life, I had called her “Marmee.”

I loved Little Women.  It was the first classic I truly remember reading, the first “grown up” book I ever encountered.  I think I loved it for two reasons: one, there was a character named Amy, and while I knew several Amys–one didn’t get out of the 70s alive without knowing a million “Amys”–but also, my godmother loved it, and gave me a beautifully illustrated version of it for one of my birthdays.  The March life was simple and perfect, so I thought in my naive, childish state.  And, of course, there were sisters.

O, I longed for a sister!  As an only child, I cannot begin to tell you the depths to which I begged, and pleaded, and prayed for a sister.  I think I would have been a terrible sister, to be honest.  I’m not very good at sharing, and I like being an only child.  But when I, good little Catholic girl that I was, prayed for a sibling, I prayed to God, and Jesus, and Mary, and a few saints, and, of course, Marmee.

As a Catholic, we ask for saints to intercede for us on our behalf.  We can also ask friends and family who have gone before us.  And despite my occasional lapsed nature–whoso more lapsed religiously and whoso more fiercely religious than a New Orleans Catholic?–now, when I pray, and I do still pray, in my own fashion, I find myself praying to my Mother.

I was just praying to Mom, almost unconsciously, in bed just a few minutes ago.

And of course, then I remembered that she was gone.

And I started to panic.

Now, I will close this blog, this silly little thing, this comfort, this journal with its rusty brass lock and ridiculously fragile key, and I will try not to remember that my mother is gone.

She is gone, and I pray to her.


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