My father still has my mother’s voice as the message on the answering machine. Normally, I hang up as soon as it begins, but last night, I needed to leave him a message. I had to listen to the entire message all the way through, and I started crying.
Her voice, God, her voice just punched me in the gut.
When does grief stop throwing punches? When am I no longer shadowboxing with myself? With my grief?
It is a consistent pain, constant and neverending. Even when it’s not there, it’s there, under the surface, like a tumor spreading tendrils of tissue, attacking healthy flesh. It affects everything I do. I think of things in terms of Before and After: Before she died, and After she died. I consider actions in terms of this: the last time this action occurred, Mom was still alive.
And then her goddamn voice, from the answering machine. That punch in the gut that still reverberates.
I am bruised still.