After my Mother died, I was in a fog for a very long time. Actually, I believe the fog started during her illness, probably as a coping mechanism. Watching someone you love endure cancer requires many, many coping mechanisms-some of which work better than others.
It hasn't been that long really since she passed into peace, only 19 months. In the beginning it felt like I would hurt forever. Then, one morning not too long ago I was going about my day, toiling in Mother's garden, and I realized that what had felt like a sharp pain had now dulled substantially. With that realization came guilt.
I now spend a good part of each day working in the garden that she loved so much. Even when she was so weak that she could hardly hold a blow dryer, she would walk out to her garden and show me how beautifully the roses had recovered from the hard winter, and how the orange lilies were placed just where the garden needed a little more color. No one- not the gardener that cared for the rest of the yard and certainly not my father- was allowed to tend her garden until she became too ill to do it herself. Then she would supervise, watching me or my brother pull weeds, making sure that we weren't unearthing anything that had promise.
The garden went untended for most of the past year and a half. I made a short-lived effort to care for it last summer, but the sheer size of the garden, which stretches out for roughly a half-block means constant weeding and tending. What felt like work last summer now feels like therapy. I can't go a day without spending at least a few hours in the garden, and it's now beginning to show. Mom would be proud.