It takes so much energy to chase away the unfounded guilt that I still occasionally find lurking in my head.
I've worked hard to distinguish unfounded guilt from real guilt, so much so that now I can feel it. I know it by its weight, and height, and breadth. I can actually feel it taking up space. In my neck. In my shoulders. On my back.
Today I made my Mother cry. Now, in my defense, it doesn't take much to make my mother cry. She is one of those people whose protective armor is about as strong as cheap cling wrap. And with good reason. She has lived a difficult life in many ways, and is certainly no stranger to the kind of tragedy that crashes in on an otherwise quiet existence, turning it upside-down and inside-out.
But still, I made her cry.
We were talking, in a round about way, about Thomas. About our common sorrow, and how it affects your views of life and death. About the curious ambivalence you have towards both once someone so wee and dear is taken from you.
And, she cried. She choked back tears as she told me that she has nothing to look forward to because what we all thought was going to be our future was suddenly gone one sunny March day. She said part of her died that day too.
And she cried.
And I sat stupidly mute on the other end of the phone searching for the right words. Because I'd made her cry.
And I felt responsible for her grief. For who she is grieving for, and for what she now knows is never coming. For the future she lost so many times over.
It pressed me down to the bed. Held me there. Sat on my back and tried to suffocate me in the blankets.
But I am not responsible for this. In the smallest voice I have, I quietly told guilt that it isn't my fault. That I can't do more than I have. That I can't risk more than I have. That I cannot be held responsible for someone else's sorrow.
I pushed back. I stood up. I shook it off.
But I made my mother cry.