It’s the little things.
The dumb, stupid, tiny things that rattle in my brain when I think about their absence.
It’s my dad not texting me about the weather after a snowfall or something about the house in broken english. It’s my mom not calling me two times in a row even though nothing was wrong and greeting me with something like “brujita!” with a laugh when I answered (brujita means “little witch” by the way, but this was said with love).
It’s going over to what was their house and not smelling her soup constantly on the stove, or hearing my dad watching a soccer match in the bedroom. She always had soup on; he was always watching soccer.
All the little things that just stop when the person is no longer there is what stings like tiny little needles falling from nowhere, very suddenly. There are certainly moments that feel more like a horse kicking me in the stomach but those small, seemingly insignificant things that evaporate into the ethers can be daunting.
I often go back and read the last few Facebook messages my mom sent. They were mostly about how she was feeling, what she ate. Questions for her doctor. I scroll up further to finally get to the jokes, to the silly things she would send me. The stuff that made us both laugh and that meant she was here, like, fully here as a person with joy and with thoughts around anything other than being sick.
I can’t yet bring myself to look at the last few texts with my dad. They were again, just the everyday things we’d always talk about but now they are also words from him that I’ll never get again, in any fashion. I want to get to the point where I can scroll as far back as possible to remember that he too, was here, fully, and a person.
Like, yes, I know they were both here. I do know that. But grief has been especially good at making me pause at different parts of the day and literally ask, “did I dream them? Or am I dreaming right now?” and it is sometimes really difficult to accept that somehow, neither of those things are true, and that somehow, that makes everything worse.
We had big and little moments together and I miss every single one of them. But while the big moments are all wonderful pieces of the picture to hold on to, the little moments fill in the empty spots with gorgeous, mundane, everydayness. And a lot of the time, I miss those moments the most.
Carla Y. Emanuele has been an educator for over ten years after graduating from Drew University with a degree in theater. Stage experience cultivated a love for story-telling and a passion for helping students reflect on their own stories no matter where they are in life. In her daily work, she runs and/or supports educational experiences in non-classroom settings such as afterschool, gap year, or arts programs. In her non-work life, she travels, she writes, she runs a small Disney-inspired Instagram account (@magicalhappyhour), and she has yet to learn how to drive. As a means of trying to understand and process her journey with grief, she began a blog in 2021 called La MaPa – “mapa” means map in Spanish and she’s hoping the exercise helps her find a bit of her way…or maybe helps someone else find theirs. She is from NJ and lives with a patient, wonderful husband and their extensive Disney dvd collection. You can find her on Twitter ranting from time to time @cymontgomery.