It doesn’t actually get any better. But you get used to bearing it.
Most days, you won’t believe she’s dead.
A birthday comes and goes and though you celebrate, it passes with a sinking feeling: maybe you forgot to tell the guest of honor where to meet for dinner. Maybe she was waylaid at the airport. Or your card was late and she is seething somewhere. Or the flowers arrived wilted. You are an awful daughter.
You’ll bump your head—on hatchbacks, pots and pans, or doors—and that will be the thing that roots you to your earth of pain. Not daily life. Perhaps the Buddhists have it. This is all illusion: work and play and clothes and cars and bills and gasoline. Not illusion: goose eggs, death, and withheld tears.
What’s real is what you can’t accept. Despite the fact that her things are now interspersed with your things. Her nightie is folded in your closet. You drink from her travel coffee mug.
So grief becomes the phrases you remember, the things which once annoyed you, the smell of the exquisite facial cleanser you are terrified of running out of because she bought it for you once a year and every time you wash your face you think of her.
You avoid sleep in hopes of being spared the waking up and realizing all of this again. Or the job that takes too many hours but cannot fill them. And sooner or later, time will pass—big, serious chunks of time—and it will heal something. Only you don’t want this scabbing over. You don’t want this to be the world.