3 Months / AFTER

by Ashley Weeks Cart

My mom’s been gone three months and while I’m far more functional than I was when she first passed, there’s this ever-present knot and gnawing in my stomach. A heaviness I can’t shake. I’ve realized that my thoughts are constantly on my mother, whether trying to make sense of her absence or desperately trying to hold her in the present. I find myself trying to recall the way her coarse hair rubbed against my cheek when she hugged me, or the way the tops of her hands felt like paper due to a severe sunburn in Bermuda when she was young. How she looked puttering around the house in her nightgown, or the way she’d snap her fingers and bob her head so assuredly when she was feeling a song on the radio. While I daily find myself smiling and laughing and connecting with people in my life, she’s always just below the surface. Bringing comfort with happy memories but also the weight of grief.

My therapist reminded James that no matter how much I’m smiling or not crying or engaging with the world around me, he should be aware of the grief. Three months is barely scratching the surface in my process to live in a world without her. There is no timetable for making sense of a life without one’s mother.

But these baby smiles and three beautiful faces are part of the support and relief and self-care that make facing each day in The After worthwhile.