My mother couldn’t tolerate loss.
She just didn’t want to handle letting anything go.
My father had to do all that work. In his last six months, he kept losing function, including paraplegia, but he remained upbeat and hopeful. Even before he had let go of driving, let go of many things he loved.
My mother, though, was another story. And as I start to clear out the huge piles of crap she left — I was just working on toiletries from various hotels, mostly generic soap bits — I realize what makes a good death. In a good death, you work to put your affairs in order, to let go and take your own emotional crap with you. In a bad death, you make others do that work, make others responsible for your own messes.
I don’t mind that my mother chose to die. I do mind that she chose to never really engage loss, to never really take responsibility for her own mess.
I think of a friend of my mothers who very deliberately went through the process of paring down her possessions, who gave away what was important.
That didn’t happen here. And the piles are mind-bending.
I have dealt with loss before. The purge before I ended up in this house was massive, letting go of so much and only being left with what fit in some plastic cartons.
And I cope with loss now. I find that after four years, whatever is going on with my feet, maybe neuropathy, maybe auto-immune disease, has left them too swollen and too painful to fit in any of my carefully collected shoes and boots. I am stuck with sheepskin boots and big hoppers, with no money to buy more.
And as I clean up my the stuff my mother could not bear to part with, even cheap throwaway toiletries, I have to engage my own loss once more, the loss of decades living as trans in a world of stigma.
You go on the heroes quest, you face the dragon with “Thou Shalt” on every scale, you stumble and find your gift, you open and change, engaging loss, but the hardest part of the journey is always the last bit, when you have to return the gift to a world that does not want it, because if they wanted it, they would have it.
And eventually, you are too worn, too tired and too broken from comping not just with your own loss, but the loss others laid on you, the loss of their own comforting indolence, loss that was just too much too much to bear for them.
And you wonder how in hell you can plow through anymore, how you can eat any more unprocessed loss, any more unconsidered shit.