A Different Grief

Siobhan Hewson

I have no right to this grief. That is what I’ve been told over and over again by those of my family who are the most qualified to know. After all I was only two when she died. I have no memory of her face, her voice, the warmth of her hands. There are no lingering memories of regretful goodbyes playing on the fringes of my mind. I don’t see her in the crowd and run to her side only to offer tearful and embarrassed apologies to a woman who, on closer inspection, could never be her at all. I don’t close my eyes on a flood of images that centre on hospital beds, beeping machines or hands grown cold, with any sense of desperation. I didn’t, full of pain, wish it to be over only to feel that I would do anything to have her back again later.
              I have no right to this grief.
              And yet here I stand with a broken heart. A heart in pieces because I have no memory of her face, because I cannot hear her voice or feel the warmth of those hands. My grief is a desolate thing. It is completely barren.
             There was no letter left for me telling me of a mother’s love that is stronger than the grave; perhaps I was too young for such things. There are no photographs of my firsts; school, boyfriends, dances, graduation, those are the things a mother captures with camera flashes and stores in her heart. There were no angry teenage screams of “I hate you” to be echoed by her hope that one day I would have a child just like me. And when that day finally came I could not hold her hand and tell her that now I understand just how hard it would have been for her to leave me.
              I have no right to your grief, to the sorrow of a lost past, to the memories you hold gently, reverently. My grief is a different kind. I am wounded by all I have never had and it makes me cry on cold and lonely nights and it grows with me through all of life’s seasons. I have no right to your grief but that’s okay, I am already full of mine.