An essay about losing a mother and dealing with grief:
When I returned to New York in late October, only two days after the Shiva, I threw myself right back into school as though nothing had happened. The trees were undressing for winter, and I walked down the chilly streets of Morningside Heights squinting against a nonexistent sun. What I kept hearing from friends during that time was that I looked “good” and “strong.” That I seemed “fine.” I didn’t feel fine, but I also had no idea what to do except carry on. “I don’t know how you manage,” an old friend told me. “If it had been my mother, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.” She thought she was paying me a compliment, not realizing that that’s about the worst thing you can say to someone in mourning—as though by merely starting my days I was betraying my mother. Am I? I started to panic. But then I came across Roland Barthes’s “Mourning Diary,” which he kept immediately following the death of his mother. In it, he writes, “No sooner has she departed than the world deafens me with its continuance.” I remember reading this and experiencing a physical spasm of recognition.