Yesterday, I ran into a dear old friend at Shaky Knees.
"I see your posts on Facebook," he said. "The ones about your mom. And I always want to say something. And--" he paused, giving me another hug. "Tomorrow's Mother's Day..."
A beat passed, and we just looked at each other, feeling that hurt you only know if you're in the club no one wants to join, the club of losing a parent too young. There we were, surrounded by thousands of people vibrating to indie rock music, talking about the fact that our moms are dead. The energy and noise of it all swallowed our words as soon as they left our mouths. For a moment, we could be real.
"It happens, and then for the first six months, everyone is so cool, so there," he said. "But then, the next six months, and the next--rest of your life, it's like it never even happened. And you're just supposed to move on. And everyone else is just living life, and I'm just -- still crying."
Yes, I thought. I'm just still crying.
It's been five years. And it is different in some ways than it was during those first six months. But in many ways it's harder. Because you're not supposed to be not-okay anymore. You're supposed to be all glued-up, more-beautiful-because-of-your-scars and stronger-from-the-pain. But no one talks about all the ways you aren't actually stronger, the ways you forever view life and love and humans differently from most of the people around you.
I'm just still crying.
And I'm just still anxious. And I just still think that if I ever make someone as important to me as my mom is and was, I'll lose that person too.
These are the things you don't say unless festival music is pumping your words into oblivion.
But these are the things that those of us who struggle through this day need you to hear.
I'm just still crying. And that's okay. I'm still broken. And I still will be. In five years. In fifty. It's not going away. It will never be like it never happened.
Don't try to fix me.
Don't try to make everything okay. And, please, don't tell me that the person I loved with my entire being is in a better place. That just makes me feel shitty about missing her so much.
Instead, know that I still need you. That I will always need you. That's not going to change, and it's not just a grief thing. It's a human thing.
Make me laugh, and let me cry.
And on days that you know are hard for me, invite me to do something I love. Play music, cook a meal, sit in the sunshine, go on a hike -- whatever it is, come encourage me to do it because then I'll remember how good life can be. I'll remember to savor each moment and to soak up the beauty my loved-one no longer can. I'll smile and laugh and play for that person, realizing that when I live fully, I make her proud.
And maybe everything will be okay for a little while. But don't mention that. Just give me a squeeze, hold my hand, and hold on.
The ride's not ending anytime soon.