Unlike the seventh anniversary, or even the third anniversary, the tenth anniversary of my mother's death carried more weight. It was not just a gloomy weight, however. "Gravitas" might have been the perfect word if it didn't feel too much. And while I still awake in moments thinking we've done our time (the quarantine must surely now be lifted!), I quickly remember the one truth that still pinches: my mom will never meet my kids.
But I challenge this too. I carry my mother with me in every moment—more than ever before. I try to recreate my best memories of her with my kids, and I hear her voice in my head at almost every poignant (or even perfectly dull) moment. She had a great voice, but it was her laugh which traveled. People, strangers, would tell me how much they loved my mother's laugh.
To say we were estranged is too severe, but after her mighty command of Winnipeg in the 1980s, her later-life became misspent. Unfamiliar. Isolated. But this was changing again. She stopped drinking in her last two years of life, and we were all full of so much hope. And her laugh! It's terrible she died when she did.
My 5-year-old daughter Rooksby has started to ask more questions about my mom and death—and more specifically her death—and I was inspired to make a little book to help shape these conversations. I also wanted to figure out some type of origin story, or at least a way to talk about birth/death and transformation without religious ideology (in the case of my little book, stars represent the foundation of all matter on Earth).
I ran out of time making this book. Nights are too short now, and I've been tired. The words may not be just right, and the drawings might need some work, but it remains my imperfect perfect gift for my mother. I wanted to present something to my family which honoured her death but that wasn't morose. I wanted hope, joy and a celebration of life (and growth and regeneration) to lead the charge.
I am also sharing these pages because I've been moved by my other friends (parents) talking about how to have conversations about death with their kids, too. Many of us lost a parent before having kids, or after. I've also been struck by my friends' other familial losses this year. Instead of saying "mother" when you read this, you could instead say the name of someone you're missing today.
P.S. This gallery will transition between pages every 5 seconds