Resistance is a bitch. I’ve felt the desire to write for days, but each time I’ve sat at these keys, I am driven to torment – nothing meaningful comes out; I am not accustomed to this because these blank pages are where I pour out my heart. Without this outlet, I am sure to go mad.

Every excuse in the book is coursing through my veins right now to stop writing entirely. This is crap, it says, cunning and smart – this resistance. It knows me, my weaknesses, “wouldn’t it be better if you turned on music and meditate?” Ahh, see? It’ll go to great lengths to prevent me from this task… I am prone to listen, on a bad day, and on a decent one, it still takes a tremendous effort to push through this anxiety that everything I will write here will be horseshit. Such is the challenge for the writer, I suppose, or else I yet again struggle this torment alone.

In six days, I will have breathed for thirty-six years.

… a big sigh escaped my lips now, from somewhere aching inside my chest. One reason Resistance told me to stop writing, go turn on music and meditate is that often that helps me get to the root of this anxiety. The weight in my chest. Now, though, I think it is time to expel this with words – for me, meditation only goes so far, and I know that; I must get this out of me.

Another birthday without Her. Still, even after all these years, it gets to me, and I wonder now if perhaps it always will persist. The ache I feel within me, the sighs that rush forth without warning, it is grief. I know that. This resistance has a name, at least today. Because if I were to sit here and honestly reflect on this, then I have to actually face it down. . . That is no easy task, not when it comes to the death of my mom. I’ve experienced healing, that is certain, but I think with a thing like this, grief is more of an ongoing evolution rather than just a painful season; I’ve not been successful in healing it completely, even with intentional, earnest effort, so I figure this pain is with me for the duration of my life. In some ways, it has gotten easier – just a fact of life – but then certain things come up. Days. When it just feels wrong that she is gone, and I have to find my way through a brand new labyrinth of emotions.

Sometimes, I just do not want to experience this. It is exhausting, this grief. Ten steps forward, two steps back… Progress, and then a wave comes. Progress, and then I am haunted by a ghost, drowning in chaos. Sometimes, I would rather just be numb. I would love to be able to turn this off.

I was not built that way. I feel everything, intensely.

Growing old (though I insist I am not yet old) is a privilege that I intend to cherish, yet it comes with so much to consider: What mark am I leaving on this world, what value am I adding? Especially since this COVID shit happened, I’ve been thinking quite intently on how I spend each day, and what I do with the time remaining. As I consider all of this, I inevitably come to the pain lurking beneath my desire for “leaving my mark” – She is gone. Most everything comes back to that point, one way or another; her departure at age 39 made such an impression on me that this occasion, another birthday, warrants a deep and honest reflection on what I am doing with my life.

Today, I wished I could ask her what she thought about who I’ve become. In a brief conversation I spoke to my dad today, it was so good to hear his voice. After we hung up, I had this immediate and quick reflex, this voice – automatic like I just did it yesterday, “call mom and see what she thinks about what dad just said”. A single second followed by the familiar ache in my chest oncemore. The grief comes in waves, but sometimes just a single ripple in a calm sea can tear your heart to shreds.

I wish she could meet my children, and call me at 1:40 on a Tuesday just because she heard a song and thought of me. I wish she could know me now… Know the things I’ve done to heal, and know the ways I’ve learned to love myself even when the darkness compels me not to.

I wish I could have known my mother as a woman.

If you know me, really know ME, you know that I am a person who craves depth and authenticity. I come real, and I come ready to explore you. I want to understand how you feel, and I want to know what you think. I want to hear the reasons for your choices, know your regrets, and talk about the hard and beautiful darkness and light that is existence. I would have wanted to know everything about her, and she was the kind of woman that would have shared that with me – of that, remembering her, I am sure. She would have loved to get to know me, and I would have loved to get to know her.

We did not get that opportunity, and so now I fill the space with what could have been and I wish it was… A silly attempt to patch the holes she left in my heart, a coping mechanism I picked up years ago I am still trying to correct – it would feel better, probably, to let the wishing go, alas I have not.

What was, the reality, sucked. It fucking sucked. And now I am thirty-five going on thirty-six and she is still gone. Sometimes, that just plain hurts. I honor that today, and I move through it with grace intact (ugly crying in the shower notwithstanding). I could have avoided moving through it, shoved it down, churning it in my gut for one more day, hour, minute… But these words beckoned me, resistance be damned.

Grief is a fascinating experience, and I acknowledge it is different for us all. Today, it means missing the ever loving fuck out of my mother and not fighting that off. It means saying aloud that I miss her, and feeling it hurt inside my chest. It means sitting here staring at these keys for twenty minutes before I wrote one damn word, and then writing one more after that, and another, and another… Until eventually I said some things that are better for this page than poisoning the soul in my chest.

I took a short drive tonight before I came back to write this. My favorite little backroad by my house – a straight shot, 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back. I turn the music up as loud as it will go. I sing as loud as I can sing. During the drive I saw a jackrabbit and a raccoon and four deer, all dashing about along the side of the road. Smiling to myself, I marveled at the odds of that – I am lucky if I see a deer let alone the other two… A beautiful gift, something so simple – animals going about their lives oblivious to the emotional trials of humanity. What a gift, not to be bothered by pesky feelings. How absurd, I thought to myself, to be jealous of a bunny. Because they just, Live. It seems so much easier – it is a lonely venture, this human experience.

Some days, I would love to turn this off. Have a moment in blissful ignorance of the heart in my chest, its persistent ache. Wouldn’t be me, if I did that, try as I may to pretend. Because it will always be something, won’t it? Another birthday, another Christmas, another Friday afternoon when you think, “call mom” but she will never answer that call again. Bummer, man. I would give anything to hear her voice say she loves me on my Birthday.

Best I figure, at least I can write it down. Give this grief somewhere to go. It might still hurt, this pain, tomorrow, but I give it to this page today. It might be nothing to anyone else, but this is good for me.

To me being soon 36. To Mama leaving at 39, and how weird it feels to approach that age and feel like I still have so much left to do with my own life, how could hers have been over so soon?

To the beautiful wake after the waves come crashing – all storms fade away, eventually – just this particular one won’t ever calm completely. My chest aches a little less now, and I am grateful for the reprieve, however long it lasts. I am learning to deal with this, still, one day at a time. It helps, all these words. Ok. NOW I can turn on music and meditate.

Miss you, Mama.

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