We are the living pieces of those who have loved us well.Author unknown
Several years ago I came upon this photograph while scrolling through my social media feed. It immediately caught my eye. Never before had I seen such an accurate depiction of parenting. I remember at the time searching for the name of the artist or the title of the piece, the location of the sculpture, and any information that could offer a clue as to whether or not my interpretation was correct. I came up with countless Pinterest board pins, a few blog posts, and an entry on Reddit but no true identifying information. I immediately took a screenshot and vowed to continue the research at a later date. (Yes, I do things like that.)
Fast forward and this was the image that immediately came to mind when my Mother passed away in May of 2020. In my mind’s eye, I could see the pieces of the parent sculpture arranged to make up the form of the child sculpture. Sort of like a personified “giving tree,” the adult figure surrendering pieces of itself to the growing child he/she loves so much. In essence, the child was all the pieces of its creator…and thus all the pieces of the ultimate Creator. Did I still have the photo on my camera roll? I did a quick search. Yes, I still had it…safely tucked away between photos of my own growing children.
Today marks the second anniversary of my Mother’s death. This is a hard day. It’s hard not just because it marks the worst day but because it marks a series of the worst days. I texted my Dad this afternoon telling him that I have no real words and that the hurt remains the same today as it did two years ago. She is so dearly missed—and she has missed so many things:
- grandchildren graduating from high school
- a granddaughter earning her credentials to become a dental hygienist
- a granddaughter earning her nursing pin
- a daughter earning her Master’s Degree
- grandchildren learning to drive
- new house/cars
- grandchildren’s sporting events/school dances
- family vacation to the lake
- and countless birthdays/anniversaries/holidays and special occasions
I’m sure I’m leaving a million things out and that’s just it…she has missed out and we have missed her in all the mundane everyday things, too. What we wouldn’t do to turn back time and walk into her house and find her there…
I feel like I have been on a two-year intense study into the anatomy of grief—why we grieve, how best to grieve, the cycle of grief, how to cope with grief, a pathway through grief, etc. It’s a course I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and yet many of us find ourselves here. If I handed you my smartphone you would find bookmarked numerous articles, podcasts, books, meditation practices and graphics about grief and how to move forward. It’s a work in progress and from what I now know, it’s neither a straight line nor something you move on from entirely. There are so many parts, so many big and little pieces involved in loving someone deeply. I think that’s why this sculpture stood out to me way back when and why it still speaks to me today. It’s both a sad and happy reminder that we are in fact, all the pieces of those who have loved us, influenced us, and made us who we are today.
Now, I make it a purposeful habit to find my Mom in my own character, to see her traits and personality in my siblings, to find her best qualities in my children and her grandchildren, to see the parts of her that resonate within the people she loved and cared for—and I have not been disappointed! I see her best “pieces” show up as love, kindness, determination, creativity, strength, loyalty, perseverance, wisdom and so much more. These are the pieces of her that will live on through us and live on through generations as we share and tell her story and model all that she has taught us.
I dearly miss her. She is irreplaceable in my life, that much I know for certain. Like the child in the sculpture, I am her living pieces…we are her living pieces.
There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has really changed.― Megan Devine
“A Life Interrupted” is an ongoing series of blog posts dealing with the loss of my mother to COVID-19.