I keep waking up with my pyjamas the wrong way around. It’s not a big thing. It’s not something that would normally raise concern, if only it weren’t for the time. It’s been exactly a month since I lost my mother. It’s been mostly a month of healing. I got to spend 3 and a half weeks off work just being with my family during this time, feeling, mourning and remembering. And somehow, now, a month later, I keep waking up in the morning and realising that my pyjamas are on the wrong way around.
Coming back to Germany has been seamless. Colleagues and friends alike have rallied around me in a way I never expected. I’m not usually one to ask for support, so to have it handed to me before I even realise I need it has been something else. But somehow, I keep waking up in the mornings and finding the label of my pyjamas scratching my chin.
I haven’t cried much since I got back, at least not as much as I expected I would. If I’m honest about it, I expected to be broken. Being back in that space where perpetual anxiety about my mom’s deteriorating condition had trapped me for weeks. How could I possibly sleep peacefully again on the bed where I got that fateful call that my mother was no more? How could I possibly sit down and work at the desk where I spent countless hours on update calls from my sister about my mom? How could I possibly sit down in the lounge where I sat with my friend the night of my mother’s passing, as we talked about what my mother had meant to me? How could I possibly? Apparently, it’s been pretty easy to do all these things. Honestly, I’m just struggling with my pyjamas.
I’m no stranger to grief. I know the sneaky little ways it can creep in, but I guess I expected more of an effort on grief’s part this time around. This is my mother we are talking about! But all I’ve gotten is a bit of confusion about the state of my pyjamas. Maybe it’s a metaphor? Maybe my inability to realise that I’m putting on my pyjama top the wrong way is a representation of my grief right now. Maybe my subconscious mind is trying to flag me to this thing that I’m not dealing with that has the potential to embarrass me later. It’s not that anyone sees me in my pyjamas, but I do usually feel like a fool when I wake up in the morning and realise what has happened with them. Maybe it is the same with my grief. Maybe one day I’ll be sitting at work going over my performance review with my boss and realise that I was reading this same feedback when I got the call about my mother and my spirit will just drop. What a fool. Maybe one day I’ll feel myself getting anxious in the afternoon around 4 pm and feel like I should call home to get an update about how that day’s visit to the hospital went and I’ll realise that there are no more updates. What a fool. How did I think I could just walk away from the brokenness?
It is confusing when you lose the part of your world that you’ve known since your inception. It is confusing to come to terms with the fact that something that always was no longer is. It is confusing to come to terms with the fact that somehow things must go back to normal. It is troubling, too, that this is the only guaranteed part of life, but we still are so poorly prepared for it. What a concept.
From today, I will try to be more mindful of my pyjamas. I will probably also check in with my loved ones about their pyjamas. I am comforted by the fact that our pyjamas are only for the night. And as that now-famous Gwendolyn Brooks quote says: “Even if you are not ready for day, it cannot always be night.”