It’s been more than a year since I last posted here. It’s been more than a year since I picked up my camera. It’s been a long year.
This time last year, I returned from a road trip to find my mom in much worse health than when I left. Her COPD was getting worse by the day and quickly stealing her independance. For the next few months, I hauled myself and my toddler to her house day after day, week after week to look after her. Eventually we just moved in because the back and forth was taking its toll. By the end of the summer, it was clear there would be no bouncing back and we finally convinced her to accept hospice care and move in with us. Two weeks later, she died in our home surrounded by a houseful of family and friends.
That was nine months ago. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been without a mother for three quarters of a year. I’ve never experienced the loss of someone so important and so real. I feel orphaned and uprooted. And the grief has changed me.
It’s made me want to hide in a dark room by myself for days on end. It’s also made me want to run out the door and regurgitate my feelings onto complete strangers. It’s landed me in some truly awkward situations, distanced me from some people and brought me closer to others. It’s given me panic attacks, nightmares, and serious bouts of depression while at the same time exposing life at its most beautiful. It’s hardened me so much. But it’s also softened me. I see the world with both more cynicism and more hope, simultaneously.
To put it bluntly, grief is a big giant mess. It’s sticky and dirty and you can never quite clean it off. But it’s part of me now. And I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this new life without my mom. Most days I feel like I’m failing miserably.
Our society sucks at talking about death. We like to shove it in a box, hide it away and ignore it. We drown it in platitudes and avoid naming it for what it is. Death is death is death. There is no coming back and no more “what if’s”. There is only before and after.
Maybe that’s why we can’t acknowledge it. Because if we did, if we truly acknowledged our own mortality, we would be faced with a very difficult question: Is this, right now, whatever I’m doing, how I want to spend my one and only life? Does my life, as it exists in this moment, reflect my values and my truth?
Those questions have simmered in the back of my mind for the last nine months and I am a different person than I was before. My parenting has changed. My values have changed. My priorities have changed. Everything about my life and my family’s future looks different now.
I guess that brings me to the point of this post. I’m closing up Kinderling. Photography just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Maybe I’ll pick up my camera again some day, but there are no guarantees. What I really want to do is write. It’s what I’ve always come back to. Writing feeds me in a way nothing else ever has. And I’m letting myself accept that. I want to give it the space it deserves in my life.
So, farewell for now Kinderling. It was fun while it lasted.