There’s a room in my mind, behind a strong, locked door. A room full of memories and loss. A room made for grieving. A room I’m not ready to enter. Not just yet.
But that door, it beckons me. Irresistibly. Everyday thoughts, images and sounds bring me rushing towards it, and in an instant I’m standing before that door, hand gripping the doorknob, turning…and suddenly I realize, with a rush of fear, that this is the door I cannot open. The door I will not open. The door behind which the demons lurk.
Every time my children do something remarkable, horrible or just plain cute it happens: I think, I should tell Mom about that…and that’s it. I’m there. I’m at the door and I’m opening it, and all the fear and loss and grieving are behind it clamoring to come out and consume me. Most of the time, I’m able to shut the door again. I tell myself, no…no…no. I don’t want to think about that. I won’t think about that. And if I’m lucky it’s daytime and I have things to do, and I can lock the door and carry on.
But if it happens at night or if I’m alone, I’m vulnerable. And when I’m vulnerable, I don’t have the strength to force the door back, or even sometimes the will. So I stand before that door and I turn the doorknob and in a rush, it’s upon me. The knowledge that she’s gone. Forever. Not just for a few weeks or months, but forever. The knowledge that I’ll never speak to her again. Not ever. I’ll never be able to ask her advice, cry on her shoulder or wish her a Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday or Happy Mother’s Day. My Mom, the one person in the world who I always knew with one hundred percent certainty was on my team, who had my back, who only wanted the best for me no matter what…that person is gone.
And that’s when the real monster emerges. When I’ve been dragged down and beaten up by loss and grief, I begin to feel alone. And despite all the caring and wonderful people who fill my life, the loss of my mother has left me with a loneliness deeper and more absolute than I could have imagined.
I know that one day I’ll be stronger and then I’ll be able to open that door and confront what lurks behind it. I’ll have armour and weapons and I’ll strike the demons down, one by one. I’ll even smite the beast of my own loneliness, and stand, strong and proud, behind that door, in a room full of nothing but happy memories and the knowledge that I have prevailed.
But until then, I’ll keep on avoiding that door.