What Remains: An Essay on Loss and Parenting
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On Rocco’s 4th birthday, we included Nana by writing a message to her on a Mylar balloon from his party and releasing it up to her. We also painted seashells from the beach this summer and carved her a small Halloween pumpkin. We “sent these up to heaven,” which really meant that I brought them to her grave.
Back to the concept of love, loss, and that aforementioned book by Ilene Beckerman that still sits on my shelf. After experiencing such a sudden and painful loss, despite my former career in fashion and my affinity for stylish things, I can tell you with 100-percent certainty that I have absolutely no idea what I wore in the wee small hours of the morning when my mother died. And I barely remember what I wore to her funeral.
Here’s what I do remember: The outpouring of love and support from folks from all walks of my life. Former elementary school teachers, colleagues, old friends, new friends, neighbors, strangers, distant relatives, not-so-distant relatives.
I have no memory of what shoes or sweater I wore to select the flowers for my mother’s funeral. But I do remember the tray of panko-crusted chicken cutlets that sat within a foil-covered pan on my doorstep when I got home. Made with panko by a friend in my community because she knows of my allergy to a component in store-bought breadcrumbs; that is love.
I recall friends and neighbors doing whatever they could to help maintain a sense of ‘normal’ for my son while my husband and I tended to funeral arrangements and services. That is love.
I’m doing my best to not let grief and anger get in the way of being a good parent. That’s perhaps the hardest part. I try to remind myself that being a model of love and light for my son is a way of honoring my mother’s memory, and also a way of pulling us through this terrible patch. It’s very difficult at times, though. I lost a mother, but am still a mother to someone who is very much alive, and who very much needs me. My 4-year-old and I have much in common, often pondering the same questions: Why? What is she doing? Will I get sick, too? I am 36 and supposed to have the answers. It’s my job to provide a safety net and a sense of security for him as my own mom did for me when she, too, lost her parents while in her mid-30s.
And so, we carry on. We carry on with love in our hearts for a mother/Nana/wife/friend that we miss so dearly. We let love guide our day-to-day activities. And for those times that we find it hard to carry on, we allow the love of friends, relatives, and acquaintances to help carry us through.
We live. We love. We carry on.
And that, my friends, is always in fashion.
Lisa Pisano writes about family life, food, style, and travel on her blog Mom a la Mode. She resides in Bergen County, NJ with her husband and son.
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