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My mother passed away July 10th. She lived 87 years. The last four, since her stroke, she was in a nursing home. Hers was the end many of us are slowly headed for, being a necessary burden to others and hating every minute of it.
"Who would have thought we'd come to this?" she said. "We", not "I", for she thought of herself as part of a family, and her fate was part of ours also. There were moments when dreaming confused her, but she was largely lucid to the end.
Now I am on a desultory trip, moving through the selfishness of grief toward whatever lies beyond it. Aimless travel is pretty good therapy, I guess. Mile after mile after mile, all sorts of memories slip into my mind, pass through like scenery, and leave out the back window. Memories of my mother, my job, my life. Sometimes it seems as though I am really sitting still, and it is the world that moves, steadily, through me.
And as it moves, it changes me. That is all that travel is.
All travel is internal. It is the mind that makes motion into travel.
You can travel far and wide while sitting in your living room. You may be perfectly still, say, looking at photographs. One by one, they slip through your fingers, some familiar, some new. You pick them up, hold them for a while, set them down. Some take longer than others.
Grief is not mourning. Grief is denial, grief is standing still.
When death comes to those we love, at first we may want to leave with them, to stop right there. That's grief. Mourning lets us live.
Mourning has the form of travel. Mourning is moving on.
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