The song “Cry Me a River” has been sung by many artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, Diana Krall, Justin Timberlake, and others – and not all of them have the same lyrics, melodies, or arrangements.
But this name came to me today in relation to the Yanuncay River, one of the four (the others being the Tomebamba, Tarquí, and Machángara) that flows through the middle of the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. The city's full name after all is “Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca” (Santa Ana of the four rivers of Cuenca).
The crying is because it's about two weeks before the third anniversary of my mother crossing over the rainbow bridge; a dagger that pokes me in the chest now and again as each season passes, making a gut wrenching thrust in and up at this time of the year, wreaking havoc as if the event had just occurred.
I cry because of the suddenness of it all.
I wail against the unfairness.
I curl up in the fetal position on the floor to try and shield myself from the sobs racking my body.
The fact that, despite my best efforts at connection, some family members don't seem to be able—or desire—to take heed that this yanking of the rug from underneath us, and stark, very personal reminder that no matter how many revolutions around the sun we may have, it's never long enough, so we each need to own our own shit and move on the best we can together, doesn't help.
She would be here with me, reveling in the freedom we both worked so hard to achieve after raising children (she had grands to enjoy as well), walking, talking, enjoying amazing food until we almost burst (world foodies that we are), and getting to know each other better as mother and adult daughter.
Almost three years and the reality has not set in yet, and I'm not sure it ever will.
I suppose one of the blessings is that it is a huge (although definitely unwanted) jolt to drive me to make every day count. To not waste an opportunity. To grab life by the crotch and don't let go.
At age 58, I don't say that my life is half over. I know that it has only just begun if I decide to fully engage.
I may have to leave behind those who don't feel me. And that's OK. We all walk along our own paths. And if they don't converge, like Cuenca’s four rivers, coming together as separate yet parallel flows, it's a loss—like this one—that I'll somehow have to learn to accept.
A dear friend of mine once said that we don't move past our grief. We just build around it.
This was a big one. Not the first and certainly not the last. But an incredibly agonizing one that some days I'm not sure I can construct around.
But she's here, only differently, telling me it's OK to take my time. That she's fine, ecstatic, in fact, well cared for, and loved where she is. And that I am and will one day fully feel like it too.
Give your grief to the current, she said. Let it crash along the stones in its path until it crumbles into tiny pebbles and settles on the riverbed, its remnants so small that they only slightly prick the feet of anyone trekking across when the levels are low.
Because one day her sudden departure will still be with me, but only feel like those tiny digs in my skin.
Grief is not the price of love; another friend gently rebukes after I utter those words and despite it being a common phrase. It's an EXPRESSION of love, he said. And we wouldn't grieve if we didn't love them.
For now all I can do is cry me a river and know that it is more than enough.