the new year

lamp moon

Grief has a strange way of becoming very private. It’s not that I don’t still miss my mother—more that the expression of that sentiment has tired. Harp on any longer every time I feel unfinished if I haven’t called her, or shudder at the pang of bittersweetness with each joy she doesn’t share, and I’ll become that stuck cog in the flow of letters, irrelevant and droning in the void.

It’s not a single note exactly. The tune of her modulates from key to key. But more and more I wonder if she (ethereal)—that is, the song of her—is audible to other ears. So I hold her between mine and she reverberates, like the harmonics of a singing bowl—sometimes grating, jangling; sometimes like a pulsing bell; and sometimes peaceful, warm and crystalline.

So many times I want to shut her up, drown her out. Sometimes I do. Other times, I want to cup my ear to hear her better, in the last whispers teased out by the mallet on the lip. But this is personal. And quiet. Too small, perhaps, for utterance.

This is a quiet time of year anyway, this string of days between the holidays and the revving of the annual machine. This year, perhaps, more so. A pale and foggy stretch of just the three of us in our bungalow, before our pals and colleagues come back from their travels to repopulate the place. In the valley between calamitously happy news and peaks to come.

I, as usual, got sick, and wound my body to a halt, and self-indulged in sloth. We’ve had time to reflect, to plan, to lay some well-intentioned bricks for good health and routines. And for ambitions, discarded or deflected in the chaos of last year. Forward—for now—the path looks clear. All that’s missing is the execution, somehow digging up my dormant drive.

Still, I can’t express the shock of seeing myself in a wedding gown, the first I’ve ever donned, and not seeing her face in the mirror, her mouth slightly open, checking for fabric snags or blemishes while beaming unequivocally at the possibility of me. I realized that day I’ve almost never bought a dress without her approval—if nothing more than her thumb-up to a photo texted from a dressing room. There are so many more of these little happy pangs left unexploded. These once-lost orphaned jewels for me to find.

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