14 DECEMBER 2005
Today is the third anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s a number, a passage of time, about which I feel not dissimilarly from my attitude toward my weight—it doesn’t reflect how I feel. These things—grief and thoughts about one’s weight—exist outside of chronology and physical space in a psychic world that has its own rules and realities. And yet, inhabiting time and a physical incarnation, we humans tend to try to force statistical quantification upon our psychic truths, as a way, I suppose, to contain what would otherwise be too wild, too unimaginable, and therefore too unmanageable for our everyday lives.
My mother bought a revolver in late September 2002. Just two and a half months later, on 14 December more or less, she lay down on her bed in her favorite pink nightie and pulled the trigger, bringing an end to many years of slow disintegration, both physical and psychological. We’re none of us sure precisely what drove her to end her life on that particular day, and over the last three years, I’ve arranged and rearranged what I know about my mother to come up with scenarios to explain her action.
What I am sure of is that she was a person less inclined than anyone I’ve ever known to contain and quantify psychic truth. She wanted her realities unmediated and in full measure; she sought out the unimaginable. Perhaps that’s why her suicide is so hard to swallow. Not because it is tragic and violent, but because it shines a light on my own inability to imagine it. In some ways, I admire my mother’s tremendous courage in ignoring rules and taboos and social strictures. Her capacity for imagination was boundless. Yet I also wonder at her inability to factor in the suffering she left in her wake; at the many ways she could break your heart. Mostly, and especially today, I simply miss her.