A year later, I almost feel like the girl who wrote that notebook was a stranger. I mean, I know that it was me, and I understand how I was feeling at the time -- distraught -- but it somehow seems so long ago and far away and foreign.
Earlier today, I read something in Midnight's Children that made me catch my breath: "A death makes the living see themselves too clearly; after they have been in its presence, they become exaggerated."
I think I know what Sir Rushdie meant.
No one should lose a parent at 32 -- or 22, or 12, or 2 for that matter, but the point remains the same. Parents should live long lives, be around for their childrens' weddings, the birth of their grandchildren, and those grandchildren's graduations and weddings. From an observer's perspective, any deviation from this norm seems punitive to those who are left behind. But from the inside it's a baptism by fire: You go through something so intense, so difficult, that you have no choice but to walk out the other side a different person.
Two months ago, I was reflecting on that very phenomenon, and at the time, it seemed like not all of my changes since my mother's death were for the better. But that wasn't the whole story. The biggest change -- the one that I didn't write about -- is that I want things to be different -- better. I want to have grown from my experience, to have learned something along the way, to become a better person -- a better Dara.
I think I have been successful in this first year -- I've become healthier, I traveled, I bought a house, I applied for a promotion at work. I started thinking about the things that were important to me, and removing the extraneous things from my life. I've tried to be more positive, more optimistic. I even managed to be vulnerable -- allowing myself to really fall for someone for the first time in a while -- and got hurt along the way. And yet, even after the abysmal failures, I somehow managed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward towards that goal.
Still, the most valuable lesson that I learned is that love is limitless but time is precious. How that translates into my life or your lives I have yet to figure out. But here's what I think: People who say that love is not the most important thing are dead wrong. In the end, love is the only thing that really matters.
And I say I'm not a romantic.