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The Worst Part

"What is grief, if not love persevering?"

By Jonathan ApolloPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Photo from Adobe Firefly AI

My grief from losing Momma still has ways of surprising me.

This coming September will mark three years since she physically left this Earth. There are days where it feels like it just happened yesterday and others where the sadness of every bit of those three years circles somewhere deep within. The latter is where I find myself most of the time – a dull yet continuous heartache that’s occasionally manageable if I can find a good enough distraction. If grief is the remaining love we never get to express (or “love persevering,” as some characters may say), then I know this is something I will feel on wavering levels for the remainder of my life.

Today, I find myself dealing with a recent development of my grief: Knowing that Momma’s gone in both my sleeping and waking life.

Momma has had multiple guest appearances in my dreams since her passing, and I often saw her as being alive and well. Lately, when she appears, I find that I have to break the sad news to her. Her reaction to this reveal often mirrors the stubbornness she exuded in life; a trait I genuinely miss more than I ever thought I would. In one dream, I approached her as she put on her old winter coat to go grocery shopping.

“Momma, you’re dead,” I told her. “People know you’re dead. They can’t see you out there.”

“Well, dead or not, this food shopping still needs to get done!”

As the reality seemed to take hold of her, her appearance changed – she became weaker, frailer. The large winter coat she had been wearing became massive around her. She then slowly walked to the kitchen, leaned on the counter, and looked right at me.

“Well, I guess you're going to have to do it from now on,” she said with sadness and confusion.

I awoke with tears on my pillowcase, sobbing as the morning sun reminded me that I would, indeed, have to do the food shopping, the house cleaning, and every other chore she demanded to do on her own (“You don’t do it right,” she would tell me. I just did things differently than she did, which she had a hard time accepting).

Most dreams that involve Momma make me sad – and I’m used to that feeling. This particular one felt like my heart was torn from my chest all over again. I cried on and off that entire day and even now, remembering this dream makes me emotional. It was like someone hit a reset button in the game of life that brought me right back to that day in September of 2021. The bit of healing and acceptance I experienced to that point was gone in a flash.

Photo by Adobe Firefly AI

I had a similar dream yesterday, although I should’ve seen this one coming. Mother’s Day was just last week. As you might expect, it was not an easy day to get through. At first, seeing so many online friends and loved ones share photos and heartfelt gratitude about their moms brought a beautiful warmth to me – but it didn’t last long.

It’s weird to feel jealousy toward others who haven’t gone through the unwanted rite of passage I’ve encountered, but it still happens… and it’s not a feeling I enjoy.

In my recent dream, I found myself in Momma’s bedroom, looking in at her sickly body as she lay in bed with her back to me and the covers pulled high. The image was shockingly similar to the day Momma was taken to the hospital for the last time. As I slowly approached her, I knew what would come next. I climbed into her bed, wrapped my arm around her waist to comfort her, and started to cry.

“I know,” she said, stunning me by breaking the silence before I could. “I know, baby.”

It took me a moment to realize what she meant. Not only did I know she was gone, but she did, too. Then, just as suddenly as she had made the admission, she disappeared from view.

I jolted awake in bed, utterly devastated. Wrapping my blanket around my shoulders, I headed straight for Momma’s bedroom, knowing what I would find but still sobbing at the emptiness of the space.

“Momma,” I called out, then screamed out.

“Momma! Ma!”

I turned around and walked down the hallway toward my front door. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. I just kept calling out for her. I opened the door and screamed down the lobby of my building. “Momma!”

And then, just when I thought the pain would completely engulf me, I woke up… for real this time. Again, it took me a moment to figure out what was going on: One, the dream hadn't ended when I thought it did, and two, my subconscious had now fully caught up to my reality.

My subconscious self was now mourning.

Following another wave of tears, I called one of my best friends. Through sobs, I explained what occurred and they, also having lost their mom, knew exactly how I was feeling.

“It’s like it’s happening all over again,” they acknowledged.

Someone hit the reset button, I thought – multiple times.

When I pulled myself together enough to hold back my sobs, the friend followed with something I’m sure was meant to soothe me.

“She’s always with you, you know. Even that dream is a way of explaining she’s still with you.”

Most days, I genuinely believe that… but to be honest, today isn’t one of those days. All I can feel is the loneliness and quiet. I miss you, Momma.

"[Grief] is all of the unexpressed love - the grief that will remain with us until we pass because we never get enough time with each other, no matter whether someone lives until 60 or 15 or 99. I hope this grief stays with me because it’s all of the unexpressed love that I didn’t get to tell [my mother], and I told her every day. She was the best of us."

- Andrew Garfield


About the Creator

Jonathan Apollo

I bang my keyboard and words come out. Sometimes, they're worth reading. Sometimes, they're even good. I always love it, though. 40-something, M, NYC. He/Him/His. #TPWK



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Comments (3)

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  • Oneg In The Arcticabout a month ago

    I don’t even know what to say other than I’m sending you big time hugs 💛 grief is a tricky bastard

  • S.K. Wilsonabout a month ago

    Beautiful and sad all at the same time, that feeling about jealousy on Mother's day, I get that so much, but mine is Father's day. Amazing piece! 🩷

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Although my mother is still on this planet, I feel your grief and how it slowly evolves as you come to terms with it. Oh, the dreaded day? How will I react? I love your link-ins. This was a great way to express love and honour for your own mother and many others.

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