Sorry/Thank you

Every time I have to tell someone new that my mom is dead
or I meet up with someone who I havenít seen since before she passed
and I have to to bring it up as if it happened just yesterday
The response I always hear is ďIím so sorryĒ
and Iím halted mid-sentence at the brief, jarring processing of it
In the middle of spilling the hurt, albeit only surface-level to prevent
a complete collapse of the emotional levees,
I hear ďIím so sorryĒ
And I am paralyzed because itís such an understandable, yet strange reaction
But what I usually have to say after that is just as strange, if not stranger

ďThank youĒ

Am I thankful?
What am I thanking you for?
Should I be thanking you?

Thanks for acknowledging what I just said
Thanks, my momís still dead
Thanks, healing is a hike that doesnít know where itís going
Thanks, I needed another reason to be sad again
Thanks, I still canít go to my family house without choking
Thanks, every picture of her still stops me dead in my tracks

Thanks for bringing the attention to me using my pain as a crutch for a second
Thanks for listening
Thanks, I guess

Iíve been able to get myself to a point where I can keep the grief more or less in a containable place,
unless something that reminds me of her becomes overly sentimental
But it seems like every other day, something new always manages
to give me a new reason to grieve
And when it feels like Iíve been able to overcome the new ones,
the old ones come back to give a little wink before itís gone again

Iím so sorry
Thank you

I know they are offering their condolences,
trying to provide me some piece of comfort, however small, through words
because whether or not youíve known the loss of a parent,
each grief experience plays out differently, on a certain part of the path,
and at times it catches me off guard, or confounds me completely,
lost in my clumsily stacked pile of memories of her till I lose my balance
and they all come tumbling all over the place again,
and I have to gather them all up before looking at one too long,
making remembering more of a process than it needs to be

I guess itís just part of grieving
and perhaps I will never think it normal for my mom to be gone
Talking about it all brings it all back
but it never quite feels as real and affirmed
as when somebody else acknowledges it too

As if confirming Iím not making it all up
As if Iím not just retelling some sad story over and over again
As if this isnít just something Iím programmed to say whenever sheís brought up
As if Iím not deflecting by just storytelling, but truly soaking in the reality

Iím so sorry

Iím so sorry youíre going through your grief
Iím so sorry to have brought up a sensitive spot
Iím so sorry youíre still navigating through the important cornerstone of a now-empty space she once occupied
Iím so sorry it still makes you choke up
Iím so sorry it comes when you least expect it
Iím so sorry your mom isnít here with us anymore
Iím so sorry your mom has passed

Thank you

Thank you for acknowledging my pain
Thank you for showing your concern
Thank you for letting me open my heart about it for a second
Thank you for understanding Iím still figuring out how to navigate it
Thank you for not rolling your eyes
Thank you for letting me think of her for a second
Thank you for everything
I love you and miss you, Mom

Sorry, thank you

Öanyway, where were we?
Written by MgAl
Author's Note
I sort of started writing on this train of thought after being told "I'm so sorry" after telling a new person about my mom passing away last year. I wasn't so much upset, as I was puzzled by the usual pleasantries of talking so casually about the loss of a loved one, and the dichotomy between I'm sorry and Thank you in this context. I wanted to try to craft it into a poem, but my thoughts were all at once too scattered, yet I didn't really want to delete any of it either, because every last bit of it counted to me.
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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