South Africa: Mourning During COVID-19 - My Mother Is Not a Universal

opinion

My mother is not a universal. My mother was always a particular. And like all particulars she was destined to originate, to exist imperfectly, and to perish. To be mortal and forgettable. It is this cursed forgettability, not a virus, that so many are battling during the Covid-19 pandemic.

My mother died yesterday. Not of Covid-19, but of a host of physiological events that resulted from living for 69 years. She died because she'd become a smaller, frailer, more vulnerable mammal.

The astute reader with some experience of human finitude will diagnose this piece as a desperate attempt to turn my mother into a universal. It is a common symptom of mourning, I imagine, to seek and insist upon immortality for those we love but who suddenly cease to be. Thinking in universals also dampens the pain of the particular.

Perhaps, then, if I write this right, just right, and if enough people read it and recognise their mothers and their mourning in it, then my mother will continue existing in a different form and will receive what humanity and the universe owes her.

She may no longer direct her thoughts on the world or on her children. She may...

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