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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.