This Friday will mark 3 years without my mother. 

For the last few days, I have found myself on the verge of tears at random moments. Memories surfacing in the midst of a busy day; images and feelings appearing as if out of nowhere, unconnected to what I am doing in that particular moment. I’m packing for a long, exciting, trip, and part of me is aware that three years ago today, I was counting breaths. Driving through Tucson to pick up my son at camp, and there’s a flash of the conversation with the nurse when she told us the final transition had begun. Editing a report for work, and suddenly I am rushing down the stairs that last morning when we woke to find she was gone. Flashes of the funeral, of stories that were told at the shiva. Some of this is probably because next week I am traveling to fill in parts of her story that I never knew, and to see people who were important parts of her life (and mine). But also, the body has its own way of remembering, it’s own internal calendar that somehow signals when these important anniversaries are nearing. 

My mind knows that this is how grief works. That it changes and lessens, but never ends. But my heart is still surprised at the pain, at the sadness that shows up at times like these. Each time, it feels unexpected. I keep wondering: Again? Still? It’s different every time, but yes, again; yes, still; and probably always. And there too, right alongside it, there is joy and excitement and daily routines and new beginnings. 

So many of us experience this, and we don’t talk about it. We think there’s something wrong with us for feeling this way. But it’s not wrong. It’s normal. It’s life.