One of the lies we always tell ourselves is that the pain will go away with time, that we'll get over it, that time heals all wounds, and it's not true. Every loss is forever raw, and we can feel it all again with just a thought or a reminder, like a Christmas phone call to the family. The older you get, the more of these moments of grief you accumulate, and they never leave you.
I decided to make a few batches of my mother's signature Christmas cookies this year and send tins to two of my siblings and my stepfather. (One of brothers doesn't care for 'em.) She used to send me a tin every year. They're ridiculously easy to make and ridiculously delicious—lots of butter, some flour, some cocoa, lots of pecans, powdered sugar—and like the smell of Top Job and Endust, the smell of these particular cookies baking brings back all my childhood Christmases. Ten or fifteen years ago my mom wrote out the recipe and sent it to me, so that I could make 'em myself... when the time came. And a couple of weeks before Christmas I went looking for the recipe and when I found it—written out in my mother's distinctive handwriting—it was like losing her all over again. Turns out these cookies are so easy to make that you can make two batches pausing to sob every time you look at the recipe and still not mess 'em up.
I'll post the recipe here on Slog before Christmas next year. But, yeah, the pain doesn't really go away with time. That is a lie. Sure, there are times when you're not feeling it, times when you're busy or distracted, even times when you feel like you've finally moved through it, but it turns out the pain hasn't gone away. It's building up like an electrical charge that zaps you when you're least expecting it.
Anyway, I'm sorry for your loss, PZ. Send me your address and next year I'll send you a tin of my mom's Christmas cookies. They're awesome—with ice-cold milk, with nice, strong pot, even with a stifled sob or two.