Friday, March 13, 2009

The Long Goodbye

Writer Meghan O'Rourke is posting a series of articles that deal with grief on Slate. One entry, called "Finding a Metaphor for Your Loss", particularly moved me. O'Rourke talks about how we look for our lost one in the world around us - in the air, the wind, the sea, or the trees. It's more than a metaphor, it's a search for a sign - a physical manifestion of the one we lost, proof that they are still part of this world.

The truth is, I need to experience my mother's presence in the world around me and not just in my head. Every now and then, I see a tree shift in the wind and its bend has, to my eye, a distinctly maternal cast. For me, my metaphor is—as all good metaphors ought to be—a persuasive transformation. In these moments, I do not say to myself that my mother is like the wind; I think she is the wind. I feel her: there, and there. One sad day, I actually sat up in shock when I felt my mother come shake me out of a pervasive fearfulness that was making it hard for me to read or get on subways. Whether it was the ghostly flicker of my synapses, or an actual ghostly flicker of her spirit, I don't know. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping it was the latter.

For me, it's always been birds. Seeing a bird that appears to be lingering a little longer than usual makes me think perhaps that's my grandmother coming to check in on me.

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