This morning, my sister and I made the decision to have our mama taken off of life support. It’s the hardest decision I’ve ever made. She’s my best friend and the most self-sacrificing mother. I only hope I can be half the mother she was.
I was wondering if you could write something about grieving?
Thanks so much,
GRIEVING FOR MAMA
I was at a gas station a few mornings ago, in Holt, Florida. The sun was shining. I sat on my tailgate, eating a honey bun.
My father liked honey buns. I never cared for them when he was alive. Everything changed when he died. I changed.
Two weeks after his death, I walked to the service station a few miles up the road. I was twelve. On the walk, I kicked dust. I hummed to myself. I felt guilty for not sitting in my bedroom and crying.
That’s grief. You feel guilty for doing things other than crying.
I had a pocketful of cash. I wanted to spend it and be happy. I wanted to smile—even if only for a few seconds.
I bought Coke and salted peanuts. Something came over me when I saw the honey buns. I bought nearly every one in the display box —$.35 per bun.
I carried them all home and never ate a single bun. I couldn’t bring myself to.
Until the other day, I hadn’t tasted a honey bun in years. Usually, when I walk into a gas station, I’ll only glance at the mass-produced pastries, then walk on by.
But a few days ago, when I wandered into the mini-mart to use the little cowboy’s room, I saw them. A big cardboard case. $1.69 per bun.
Inflation has really done a number on honey buns.
I bought one.
It was impulsive. I haven’t bought a honey bun since age twelve. I peeled the plastic. The thing tasted like a lump of cardboard that had been left underneath a kitchen sink. It was exquisite.
And I grieved. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t sad. I smiled and looked at the sky. Grieving isn’t all tears and sleeplessness, you know. As a matter of fact, after enough time passes, grieving can feel pretty damn good.
It did that day.
A woman wrote me a few weeks ago. Her name was Scotty. Here’s what Scotty said:
“Sean, you dwell WAY too much on your late father and his death… You’ve about slung all the sympathy out of it. Maybe it’s time you let it go.”
Let it go, she says.
Well, I have no insight on grief. But I do know enough to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. I’m a grown man, I have grieved all my adult life. It is a piece of me, a limb on my body.
I don’t want to let it go. Not now, not ever. Not even if Scotty is sick of reading about it. I didn’t write this for her.
I wrote this for a twelve-year-old boy. For anyone who misses a loved one so bad they’ve lost weight. For you. For your mama—God rest her soul.
And for a man who used to like honeybuns.