Grief at a Distance

Sarah Roth // This week marks the anniversary of my mother’s death, and my family had planned to gather at her gravesite in Florida. For the past year, her plot has remained unmarked: a rectangle of grass with a hint of a pale line at its edges. We had spoken of unveiling the gravestone, attending a service to recognize her Yahrzeit, and coming together for a week of shared feeling and mourning. The past year has been measured with reference to this point, like the sign of a lighthouse marking a horizon thick with fog. Like so many other families in this season of coronavirus, as the date grew closer, our plans became ever more uncertain. Today, on her anniversary, we remain scattered across the country. Some of us are in Florida; others are in Washington or Colorado or Maryland. I write from my apartment in Baltimore, where I have hunkered down for the past months, and where I will remain for the foreseeable future.

Light and Shadows: On Care and Loss

Sarah Roth // My mother and I divide up her Hospice bags: two nondescript fanny packs holding morphine, liquids, and nutrition. Artifacts of the land of the critically ill, they are contraband here in the clinic.