Today: Not the Kind of Anniversary You Celebrate

20 Dec

A year ago today I watched a heart so dear to me take its final beat.  There was nothing I could do for her, I was powerless to stop the disease that took over her frail and suffering little frame. I feel fortunate that I was there to see her through her passing, holding her hand and softly encouraging her to let go, just as she was there for me so many times through out my childhood, in illness or fear. I wasn’t her favorite child, I knew that. We fought many a fight, failed each other many times over, and we certainly had our differences but I loved her none the less.  And I miss her. I feel like the last year was spent down a rabbit hole of uncharted territory, a shift in the path of my life  that only another motherless adult could understand. A series of feeling  (and trying to fill) empty little holes her departure left me with,plagued with questions I’ll never get to the chance to ask and haunted by inside jokes that will no longer be understood. We had a history, unique to us, good and bad, and its mine alone now as she is not there to  share it with me any longer. I  grew up Catholic, but I’m really not even sure what I believe any longer – whether she is some ball of energy, a light at one distant end of the universe shining brightly like a star…..or perhaps sitting with a divine  being in a better place enjoying the rewards of a life lived by virtue……or perhaps she is here with me now, on some unseen plane in some  unknown dimension parallel to us, watching me as I type, looking out for me as some sort of guardian angel and spiritual protector. Or maybe she is just gone……which is what it feels like. My life will never be the same with out her, my emotional “safety net”  is gone. I can never again ask her who was a lefty in my family, as my daughter is, or how to make those Ukrainian sauerkraut rolls she made, or to ask her to come over and watch my kids for me when I am sick or tell her I love her or even accuse her of never loving me back.  All those chances are gone and everything that has been said, has been spoken, like it not. I still haven’t written thank you notes from her funeral and I have 7 boxes of her belongings in my basement that I get the shakes from just looking at. Her passing has made me hold me own children so dear, and value the unique relationship I have with each of them. I am far more conscious of the course of our time together and how I want them to remember me, and embark upon their own journey as mothers.  I know whats important in the mother/daughter dynamics because I no longer have that chance to change it on the flip end with my own mother.

Her passing also taught me that life is short. She died at 66, my father at 67. I am working hard to make the most of it, and have cut out a lot of dead weight that dragged me down. I don’t tolerate bullshit. I’ve realized that people don’t have to be related to you to be your family, and have some dear friends who have been my life boat. I’ve been surprised by who has been there for me, and by some who have never even acknowledged her death with a simple “I’m sorry for your loss.”  Its been one of my biggest emotional growth years since childhood, and not because I was striving for that, but simply because I had no choice but to suck it all up and cope, although I will admit that this summer I came as close to a nervous breakdown as I’ll ever come.  I’ve learned so much about myself and what I want my life to be about.  I’ve stopped waiting “for the right time” and just go for it now. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, and I know that now. I’m more honest with myself, and with others about how I feel, and I don’t care who it scares and who’s boat gets rocked by it. I’m truer to myself than I’ve ever been. It’s been hard for me to write, writing requires me to tap into a place that is deep and I just cant seem to get there with out thinking of all that I’ve lost when she died, and all that will never be again. Most of all, I just ache and miss having a mother.  As raw as that is, it’s the truth.

So Rest in Peace Carol, where ever you are. I cant listen to Pearl Jam with out thinking of you (and feeling a slight tug of humiliation thinking about you rocking out at concerts) nor can I walk into  church, eat a bag of “wise” potato chips, or smell gardenias with out recalling my childhood and the memories you gave me. I see bits and pieces of you in each of my children, and in myself as well. Sometimes when I listen to myself speak I hear your voice and when my ankles crack as I go down the stairs I see your form. So many little echos of you surround me, which I suppose makes it hurt all the more. Rest well, Mother and know that despite our tears and fights and short comings, I really did love you. And I know you loved me too.

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11 Responses to “Today: Not the Kind of Anniversary You Celebrate”

  1. Lisa Boucher Cabral December 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    God Bless you, Sweetie!!! You bring me to tears. I am, still, so sorry for your loss. You know I love you!!! Big hugs!!

  2. walkingpapers December 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    This breaks my heart. With a dad who died at 56 and a mom fighting for her life now at 75, I know your pain. I too have made a choice to “go for it” every day–and to try not to spend much time getting bogged down in the tears. I don’t want this time with my mom to be marked by sadness and so we choose every little thing to celebrate. As I write this in the hospital waiting room, I am so grateful to be here with an outpatient–not visiting an inpatient. Big virtual hug!

  3. Traci White December 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Wow….so sorry for your loss, Christine. Everything you said is very true.

  4. Maryann December 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    So very sorry. I’ve been there–I am there– and it’s a void that’s never filled. For what it’s worth, I think she is all of those things you mention–a ball of energy, a bright light, sitting with a divine being, and here with you now. I don’t always “feel” my parents with me, but I choose to believe those things–it’s the only way I can get through. And once in while, something happens that makes me think “Of course they’re still here with me”. How could it be any other way? Hugs…

  5. ASuburbanLife December 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother, thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. elroyjones December 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Oh Honey. I am so sorry. I wondered. When my mother died I thought, “Now, I’m an orphan.” Immediately after that I thought, “People should NOT have kids if they’re going to die on them, there should be a rule that says Everyone Dies Together.”
    Thinking of you and relieved to know you ended on a good note.

  7. Dawn December 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Christine, you write so beautifully – you really do move me to tears. I hope you do know how sorry I am for your loss. Your mom was lucky to have children like you, your sister and your brothers and I just know she was so very proud of you all. On a selfish note, I hope writing helps you heal because your writings bring joy to so many people, myself included. Love and hugs to all of you on this sad anniversary!!!

  8. Carl D'Agostino December 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I can’t believe your story as it is a mind blower that this is the way it was between mother and me. She died Sept 17 at 88. I was her home hospice nurse for her last 5 weeks (parents have lived with me last 10 years) and got to know a different person that I had known for 63 years. I never really felt she loved me but so many times she came back from a step into the other side and through the haze of morphine to tell me she did. Half an hour after she died a tear formed and fell from her left eye. It is father ,89, and I now. I really related completely to your words. I too feel the echoes.

  9. Kate Lakritz December 21, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    Oh Christine! You are an amazing writer! I’m sitting here trying to type through the tears! My heart breaks for you & for your family as mine does in missing my own Papa who passed away 10 years ago when he was 60! I truly want to believe that those we love still surround us, on some level. Maybe it’s a selfish wish, but all the same, sometimes it makes me miss him a wee bit less, but yet also a wee bit more. Hug those beautiful children tight to your heart and just love love love them… isn’t that all that is required after all? My deepest heartfelt sympathies. xoxo Kate

  10. She's a Maineiac December 21, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    So beautiful and honest. I am terribly sorry for the loss of your mom. Thanks for sharing your pain and feelings with us. I can relate to so much of this. Peace and hugs to you.

  11. shaylene January 3, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    Wow, your words and raw emotions are so touching in my sad time right now. I just found out I lost another person I know to early and the numbers will continue with age sadly. I worry myself sick sometimes thinking about cancer and just recently found out I had a tumor and might have cancer and possibly die from it before my normal death time comes. My aunt died from cancer three years ago so I know that pain. I will hate to lose my mother and I will hate to leave my kids to early. I cried reading this at how painful life is to us still liviing.

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