Life’s Glass: From the Heart of a Mother’s Grief

I woke up this morning and waited for the moment when my dream body and my waking body would unite. There’s a pause when I open my eyes. My brain switches back and forth between the dreaming and waking worlds to see which one it must live now.  

Sometimes I close my eyes and attempt to return to the dream because it feels to be the most ideal choice for the day. Thoughts in waking life begin first with, “Yes, Koa’s still gone,” and, “Yes, you are still here.”  My brain tells my body, “You must get up and live.”

Inside the fog of the in-between comes my first question. “What day is it?” It takes a few moments for me to remember. My dreamtime lingers and my subconscious asks, “Could you just go back and sleep a little bit more?”

I assess the day I have planned and ask myself, “Can I do this?” Banyan crosses my mind. I remember my mother-self. My abiding commitment to him is what allows me to sit up, put on my moccasins, open the drapes, and turn on the bath. I add an essential oil that feels most appropriate for my mood and a handful of sea salt to help cleanse the energy. While the bath is filling, I step out into the kitchen and begin the day, one foot in front of the other.

Banyan is already well into reading with his dad. I am drawn to the sliding glass door where I lean my head against the cold window and look out to see if anything new has taken place.

Today is an especially hard day to wake to. How is life ever going to be any different? I hear an inner voice say. How is life going to find me here? Will this day go by like yesterday and another one will come tomorrow?

I look out at the land, notice the same cloudy spring morning, and feel that same feeling of having to change my own existence, as if I even want it to change. I face the familiar energy of anger, hopelessness, sadness, and longing, knowing each emotion would be my intimate friend once again. It is clear to me now that I must get out my spiritual toolbox and carve another chamber into my heart for grief. I must expand allow grief and joy to live together.

Some say the reason why your heart breaks under such grief is so that room is made for its permanency.

As I pull away from the window, I notice many head prints from the oils of my skin that leave small circles, one next to the other. Some are lower, where I leaned down a little. Some are up higher where I felt a little taller that day, more upright and hopeful. Had I done this before? Pressed my head against this window looking for life? I begin to backtrack from days past and realize that I wake every morning, go to this window, and search for a new day.

I know I am looking for Koa. I know I am looking for myself. I am looking for life to have ended outside so I can leave this body riddled with anguish now. I am looking for something to have changed that says, “Look! I told you life is worth living.” I am looking for inspiration to get through another day. I want the confirmation that nothing is different out there and this is just life.

Once I realize this, I seem to be able to make breakfast, take my bath, and commit to the day that is before me.

Tears roll down my face. They are warm and have the fullness of tragedy inside of them. My body feels weak and yet so strong in a numb sort of way. Has it really come to this?

Once upon a time, my morning was filled with two boys fighting over my lap to give me love. Lunches had to be packed, toddlers needed dressing in the cute organic clothing I had joyfully picked out for them, books about fuzzy caterpillars and toy trucks needed to be read, pancakes needed to be cooked and that rush of life needed to pulse through my mothering veins to make it out the door to take both boys to school by 9 o’clock.

Now I sit in bed, still in my pajamas, writing these words while Andrew cooks and Banyan gets himself dressed. The books called “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Guess How Much I Love You” are packed away in boxes in the garage with all of those cute clothes, wooden kitchen toys and train sets. The once-adored toddler toys are now items stored away as memories of a once deep and profound love of life.

The house now seems to belong to the world of grief and emptiness. Here live two parents who seem to be living life on life’s terms, and a 7-year-old boy who has witnessed too much sadness and tragedy to even speak of it.

Once-full life of the home and family has rightfully given way to a necessary time of respite from what we once knew. It’s more like a deserted family home now. An eerie quietness reverberates from wall to wall.

This move into our new reality was not a gradual transition. One morning we awoke to the beautiful fullness of motherhood, fatherhood, and brotherhood. By nighttime, we were living a life of total hell. Shattered into a billion pieces and barely breathing. Trapped in a reality that we could not get out of.

Sometimes I wish other days would hold such contrast. One day came and shattered my whole life, and then the next day nothing happened at all. I wish something would happen. Anything at all that would remind me I am still here.

How is it one day can change your whole entire life and others seem to stand still like they are afraid to move? The days I live now feel endless and full of pain and tears. I am weighted down with responsibility that distracts me from the excruciating loss of a life that aches within the walls of our home.

I am trying to make it beautiful. I am trying to find meaning. I am trying to see the good. I am trying to accept this fate.

I search my heart to find where it might be ready to heal. I search my soul for where I might gain some insight. I search my energy to find movement.

I search for understanding, for hope. I scan my life for the love that exists and ask myself, “Can I let it in today? Can I spend time with another human? Can I do a project I have been hoping to do?”

My head falls back against the glass. I realize the windows were cleaned last week and all these imprints of my face on the window were made from just a few days of all of these questions that appear to have no answers. Yet. Aho.

victoria markland the imperfect start

About the Author | Victoria Markham

Victoria Markham is a tireless truthteller standing with other women side by side in the revolution to change the way we stay small! Email her at

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1 comment to "Life’s Glass: From the Heart of a Mother’s Grief"

  • Loretta Tweed aka Grace

    Thank-you for sharing this. I lost my daughter Brittany April 22, 2016. I leave those prints on my back-door as I look out to her Memorial Garden. My tears begin again.