I was reminded today that it is sixteen years this week since my mother died.
Sixteen years ago, I was a child. A high school student just a week past the final exams of her junior year. I had little prior experience with death, only one grandfather who'd passed away when I was five.
I didn't know what to do with myself. Mom had died just before five a.m. Later that morning, I sat in our entry hall, watching the sun slant through the opening of the screen door and asking myself again and again, "What am I going to do without a mother?"
I could hear the traffic outside. Cars drove by, neighbors went about their daily routines, school children shouted and skipped and giggled. It was surreal to recognize that it was just an ordinary day for everyone else. My existence was irreparably altered, but the rest of the world moved on, as if nothing had happened.
Grief is a slippery thing. It catches you at the oddest moments. I've now lived nearly as much of my life after my mom's passing than before. Most of the time, it's a minor footnote in my biography. Today, though, I feel the loss as an ache, deep in my chest, flooding out onto my cheeks.