Healed, I Yearn for Her

My mother is dead. She has been gone for five and half years, not that I’m counting.

Well, okay, sometimes I count.

But grief is forever new. When it shows up, it’s as fresh and fertile as a garden in spring thaw: you step into it and immediately are sunk into a depth you didn’t even know was there.

It hurts less. But the ache is the same.

I’m working on my book. Not as fast as I need to be, and not with as much dedication as the task requires. Apparently, I’m working on myself, too. Still. Forever. Always.

But working on my book means I am spending days sitting in my breathtakingly beautiful conservatory — a room she would have loved beyond measure, charmed to the hilt that I would end up in a house with such an indulgence. She was quite inclined toward the fancy. (And so well might I be, yes, it’s true.) And as I am drafting out the timeline of our extraordinary relationship, I keep thinking to myself, “Oh, was that in 1979? Or later?” And the person I want to ask about all that … is gone. She disappears and is dead at least a dozen times a day now, because she is so alive in my head now that I am getting deeper into the book.

I have so many things I want to ask her, still. How do I get my asparagus fern to perk up? Misting it isn’t helping. How many times would you boil the orange peels for our candied holiday treat? Mine were still bitter this year even after three rounds. When did she enter menopause? When did she start dying her hair red instead of black? Who ultimately was the most important influence her life? Her father? Her therapist? Her lover? My dad?

What did she really think of her life in the end?

Did you think you were a failure, Mama?

I always thought she was a hero. A survivor of so many layers of regret.

I never called her Mama until she was dying. She was Mom, always. But in the days that I was fully taking care of her, the tenderness in intoning the two syllables of “mama” felt more right. And it comforted me after she was gone. Sometimes I would feel a memory of her so strongly I would take in a sharp breath, and then whisper “Mama.”

She is forever my Mama now. And I am still taking care of her. Missing her, dreaming about her, and hoping and praying that I will do her justice—her mightiness and her weakness nearly equal in size—as I go deeper into the work of trying to tell our tale.

I love you, Mama. And I wish you weren’t gone. Still. Forever. Always.


About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses. Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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10 Responses to Healed, I Yearn for Her

  1. Denise says:


    I’m glad you’re working on the book. I’ve been tempted to nudge you and ask, but I didn’t want to bug you if you were or cause despair if you weren’t.


  2. Mike Zickar says:

    Stacy, Thanks for sharing that post. Having lost both parents, it helps a lot. I actually enjoy the sad moments when I miss my parents, as it reminds me of the heart connection that still exists. I’m glad that I’m not suffocated by those sad moments; but when they pop up occasionally they seem like a small gift…

    I wanted to share this Iris Dement song with you that has meant a lot to me:

    • stacy says:

      Thanks, Mike. I agree with you completely that grief is also good company, the reminder of the love built and the lives shared. And thank you for sharing Iris, too. I didn’t know her! Beautiful cooincidence: my mother’s and my favorite flower? Iris. : )

  3. Rita says:

    Sometimes I think the grieving I am engaged in now (have been, for some time) is just preparation for the ultimate griefs still awaiting me. There’s some comfort in knowing that others ahead of me on this particular journey are working on writing a trail map.

    Sending you love, during these weeks that can be particularly achey, even if we’re not regularly resurrecting (and then losing all over again) the ones we love through the process of writing.

    • stacy says:

      Wow, grieving in anticipation of grieving. Such a gripping idea. And I actually think I started grieving for my mother when I was very, very young, as a way to distance myself (in theory, ha!) from the incredible pull of her pain. And yes, these weeks are made for ache. I send you bushels of love back. xo

  4. Jennifer Graham says:

    Thank you for your beautiful writing, and for your honesty. It makes the journey easier for us all.

  5. caren says:

    Right there with you. My mom died in 2007 and I still miss her. There’s a gap in your life when someone so pivotal to your world goes away forever. Mundane questions left unanswered become so much more important…

    Merry Christmas.

    • stacy says:

      Thank you, Caren. Yes, we will never stop missing them. Especially around the holidays, where there are so many strong memories. Merry Christmas to you, too.

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