Can A Mother Forget?
Fourteen years after the death of my only child from a virulent form of leukemia I read a quote from Nietzsche, “that without forgetting, it is impossible to live at all.” Was he right?
I was with Carol when she died, had held her as she took her last breath. As she lay in my arms I felt my heart squeezed by a giant fist. The initial wound was raw and ugly and for months I cried out in a primal agony of grief too formidable to endure.
Fourteen years later, the initial sharp tip of the arrow has become blunted as it makes its way deeper into my soul. It has become rounded and smoother as it nestles into the core of my being. As the initial pain lessens, memories blur. I have a difficult time remembering the planes of her face, the inflection of a sentence spoken softly, the feel and smell and essence of her. In the early stages of grief I’d often see her face in a crowd. No more.
There is no closure to grief such as this. The loss becomes integrated into the fabric of my life. I have not only made peace with it but have gone beyond acceptance and into the strength that familiarity with misfortune can sometimes bring.
Life- affirming thoughts of my beloved daughter have replaced despair but the emptiness endures forever. I have learned to live in harmony with this.
In learning to walk the fine line between remembering and forgetting it is easy to get “stuck.” Today would have been her 40th birthday. The body remembers special holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. These days have been encoded deep into my consciousness along with my DNA. Discipline and courage urge me on. On other days I seldom think of her at all. Are these “good” days or “bad” days? I do not know.
Two years after Carol died I had a dream: Carol was running toward me on the foot path we had often walked together when she was alive. She approached and called my name. I paused for a long time before I said to her, “Carol, you must go back again. I’ve learned to live my life without you.”
Was Nietzsche right? Partly. Few remember Carol. I will never forget my daughter. This I believe.
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