Grief (2/?): Alaska

When I was 3 or 4, my grandparents went on vacation to Alaska. Mom, dad, and I were invited to pick produce from their garden while they were away.

I remember standing down by the garden, teary-eyed and wailing towards the house. Graaandma. Graaandpa. Time and space stretches on for very young children, so back then a week was eternity, Alaska might as well have been off the planet, and so a vacation meant permanently gone.

My parents comforted me, and it became a sweet story my mom was fond of sharing: 3-year-old Darlene ChaniMaya inconsolable, embittered — unable to process being at Grandma & Grandpa’s, but not having them present.

Her joy in retelling came from my childlike bewilderment, how my small world seemed to have ended over something so simple. I used to roll my eyes whenever the anecdote came up, but now, the memory gives me peace in a way I could have never expected.

After my mom died, I found myself calling out for her in the empty house. It wasn’t denial so much as wanting to make sure I didn’t lose how casually my throat worked around muh, mum, moTHER.

Sometimes, it slides into Medieval widow wailing; long and tragic vocal sounds. And just like that, I’m back at the garden, crying towards the house, but not for my grandparents — this time for my momma.

Just as a 3-year-old struggles to comprehend loved ones being gone even for a moment, so I struggle with eternity. Recalling the garden helps me find peace.

Back then, my parents consoled me as I mourned what was beyond my understanding. And so God holds me close when I cry and wail for my mom, even though she is right there with him, fully whole.

Comfort comes in strange places. That memory of being so small and shattered has helped me day-to-day. There is a whole plane that I can never understand, and all God asks me to do is trust. It might not be as close as Alaska, but I have the assurance that someday the “vacation” will be over, and I will be able to see my mom again.