I used to do a daily 7pm photo series and, on this day, four years ago, this was the image with the words: "Wednesday...7pm...silence." I still remember the moment I took it. I was walking back to my sister's house from my ex's place and wandered into a stranger's yard. A woman came out of the house and said, "The birches are beautiful at night, aren't they?" And, I just nodded, couldn't speak. "You okay, honey?" she asked me. I nodded again and then blurted out, "My mom died today." She put her hand over her mouth and looked at me, shocked--like maybe I was about to unravel in her driveway.
We stood in silence together for a good five minutes, staring up into the birch trees and breathing frosted breaths. I was stunned then. I am still stunned now. "I'm so sorry," the woman finally said. "I am too," I told her, "It wasn't supposed to happen this way. She wasn't even sick." I took my photo and waved goodbye to her. She watched me walk away, quiet. I wish I could say this gets easier with every passing year. But, it doesn't. All that has happened is that the numbness and shock has started to wear off and I'm left to finally process it.
Since there is no way of easing my grief, I look for tiny moments of peace instead, like this one on the first day of life without her...where I got to breathe in silence with a stranger and a strand of bonewhite trees.