Most of the time, it is a ritual that creates or strengthens the bond between two people. For me and her, it is the bond between the two people that started our ritual. It is the kind of bond that you would never understand unless you have one of your own. The bond created by loss is a bond unlike any other. For us the loss is not shared. While I loved her mother and she loved mine (probably more than either of us know), it is the loss of our own mothers that created this ritual.
Her mother died first. At that time, she dealt with issues that I never dreamed I would deal with a few years later. So when my mother died, I found the greatest solace in her. She would tell me the answers that the others were too polite to tell. She and I are both incredibly strong (after all, the loss of a mother will make anyone strong) and the way we escaped the pity stares and the “dead-mom” whispers was to talk with each other. We talked about how we missed our mothers, how we sometimes didn’t understand our widowed fathers, how our brothers coping methods were different than ours and anything else under the sun.
One reoccurring theme was the feeling of injustices that were done to us as a result of losing a mother. They started out lighthearted like, “Injustice: I will never have someone to make my gynecologist appointments for me.” Sometimes they were shared face to face, sometimes over instant messenger, but mostly they occurred via text message. Sometimes they were about church, sometimes about teaching, sometimes about loneliness, but they were always about two things: injustice and mothers.
Our mothers were the same type of women. Both teachers, they touched the lives of the community like very few teachers can. When her mother died, students grieved hard together. I know this, because I was one of them. When my mother died, the town shut down. The teachers meetings were cancelled along with a basketball game and every church activity that happened regularly. Students and church members alike grieved together. She knows this because she was one of them. At the core of our ritual, it is not a teacher, a church member, or a volunteer the two of us grieved for. We grieved for our mothers.
The greatest force keeping our ritual going is the fact that grief is continual. Unless you have had an experience like ours, you wouldn’t know anything about grief but what the textbooks tell you. What we know is that grief is continual. It does not ever go away, though some seem to think it does. Our ritual is a way of dealing with our continual grief. Sometimes our sharing of injustices is still humorous, but most of the time they come when our hearts are so lonely that it just feels reassuring to know that someone reads it.
“Injustice: my mother will not be able to proofread any papers for me.”