Grief’s Road

I was with her when she drifted away from us early Sunday morning. I did not, at first, know what I was seeing: there were some short sharp shallow breaths, and then there weren’t. “Take her vitals,” I said, “take her vitals.” It wasn’t until the night nurse unfastened the oxygen tube that I understood that there wouldn’t be any more.

Finally I could put my arms around her the way I’d wanted to since I got off the plane two months ago; she’d become so thin and fragile that I’d been afraid to hold her too tightly, and it was hard to maneuver in a hospital bed anyway. The last week or so Rebecca and I had started taking exhausted naps with our heads lightly brushing her shoulder, but I hadn’t fully embraced her since the day I left her back in April, when I took such things for granted. Mom was so slight that there was enough room for me beside her on the single bed until my sister arrived and I had to say “Yes” when she whispered “She’s gone already?”

Since then there’s been a lot of errands and a lot of business. We go down to the island next week and before then arrangements must be made, bills must be paid, appointments must be attended. We have to find a new home for the cats and to wait for my passport to arrive. We have to clean out the apartment and dispose of the all the unused meds. We have to break the news. We have to remember it, every day; every day we have to remember it.

There wasn’t anyone better than my mother. There wasn’t anyone more giving or gracious; there wasn’t anyone I loved more. Grief’s road rises up brokenly before me, and now I go along it, trying to hold on to her and let her go at the same time. Now I know what I was seeing. Now I know that that was the last breath.


  1. Ah, my internet friend. I am so, so sorry. I am never sorry, though, for your ability to write so elegantly.

  2. hard to believe how much can change in 7 months.xoxo

  3. I can’t even imagine what this must be like for you, but I am thinking of you and your sister and sending you all of the hugs

  4. There isn’t a thing I could wish for you that could happen, but I am wishing them for you anyway.

  5. Oh, Chiara. I’m so sorry. Sending my love.

  6. Oh oh oh oh. I’m so very sorry. The way you wrote about her made it so clear she was of the very, very best kind.

  7. I’m so sorry, Chiara. Take good care of yourself. I’m glad you have your sis with you.

  8. That jolt of remembering, the dull ache of terrible sadness…they’ll last a while. Maybe a longer while than we’d like. But not forever. A day will come when you think about your mum and instead of that jolt and that ache, you’ll just know, and so you’ll remember how beautiful she was, and that funny thing she said that time, and how much she loved you.

    I know you will always miss her as much as one person can miss another, but one day you’ll be able to put aside this shitty year and turn back the pages and look at the better years, and the best times, instead. And the MVC will all be here to talk about all of it as much as you need to, shitty or sweet, and help you turn those pages. Love you.

  9. so sorry for your loss

    take care <3

  10. There are no words, Chiara. No words, but plenty and plenty and plenty of love.

  11. Much love from a blog reader who has been amazed at all you’ve shared about you and your mom.

  12. I’m sure she’s grateful for everything you’ve done Chiara. Keep strong. Much love, your bandie x

  13. So very sorry. You did so much for her, but we can never outgive our Mom’s.

  14. Chiara, I am so very very sorry. Your writing has been a beautiful tribute to your mother. I hope it has helped you too. All my love.

  15. Your friends all around this little planet we call home are thinking of you and wishing you didn’t have to go through this. Know you’re not alone!

  16. Sorry Chiara. Sending you love.

  17. Chiara, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience with us through your lovely writing. My thoughts will be with you.

  18. My deepest condolences, Chiara. My thoughts are with you and your sister. What wonderful people your mother raised.

  19. My condolences to you and yours on your loss, Chiara.

  20. Chiara, I am so sorry for your loss, and so moved and awed by the beautiful words you’ve used to share your mother with us. I’ve walked this road a few times and it’s never the same twice…but know that I’ll be standing in one of the intersections, handing out apples or hugs or whatever might help. We love you.

  21. Oh Chiara. So much love and respect and strength to you. I’m so glad you were with her when she went. xo

  22. I’m so so sorry. Thinking of you.

  23. I am so sorry. When we lose our mother, everything changes. Sending you love through the internet.

  24. I’m so deeply sorry for your loss, Chiara. I hope you’re able to find peace and comfort in all of the wonderful memories of your beautiful mother.

  25. I am sorry for your loss. I only knew your mother through your blog, but she sounded like a gifted woman. She will live on in you and your sister.

    I am sending my love,