Nothing looks the same anymore. Maybe it’s still grief over my mother, and over several friends who have died in the last few years – one of them over twenty years ago who I have recently reconnected with.
It’s funny to phrase it that way, but it feels true. I had been stopping by the grave of one of my dear friends – filling her in on our crazy world now – and doing my best to let her know she’s loved and not forgotten.
I’m supposed to be writing an article for work, and I’ll get to it. It’s been such an orderly thing in my disorderly life.
I feel like a weirdo still grieving my mother’s passing. It was her time, after all. She got to live a long life, but it still came as a shock.
This has more to do with me now, I know that. I know it always had to do with me, really. I’m still here and she’s gone – on.
I’ve still not felt her around me. Maybe she’s left for parts unknown – or is just gone, if atheism is right.
Over the past year, it has taken a lifelong soul-sister friend to help me sort out what’s mine and what isn’t.
I had so much grief and rage.
I’m kind of surprised I’m still talking to any of my family members, but I think that’s guilt. I think it’s hope too, but at some point, it’s wiser to move on.
We were each others’ survival growing up as we were tossed about treacherous seas while those who were supposed to be in charge jumped ship. That forges a bond, even if it’s not ultimately healthy.
I love and loved my sisters dearly, but that affection was only really returned by one sister, who still told me her god is better than mine – and even though we got along the best – I know we can only share some of our heart now.
My friend told me I taught them how to treat me, and my acting differently will not cause them to respond well. In fact, I can expect them to act worse, or just continue as they’ve often been toward me.
Sometimes you get surprised for the better, and sometimes you find your true family outside of those you were born with.
Maybe it is my mother’s nudge from beyond this world that’s pushing me to toward compatible love and friendship. At least it makes me feel better to think so.
She’s been calling me for days. I thought I was making it up, but she is persistent.
Go see Mom.
“She’s not there,” I think. “You’re just chasing a memory. You’ll go and the stinky, moldy trailer will be empty, and cold, and you will leave empty and cold.”
“Because I’m lonely.”
Wait, she’s lonely? I thought she could come see me anytime. I thought that when you’re in spirit, you’re free? Maybe there are things that need to be righted though. Maybe there is unfinished business.
Maybe those final days there were not days she would have wished for. It was not how she wanted to leave it. And my presence will bring love and companionship, even if for a minute.
It will suffice.
And I will keep going back, Mom, even if I’m making it up. I’ll keep going back to say hi until there are no more reasons to go, or no more tears to shed – I guess? I honestly feel like this isn’t just me.
That was your heaven on earth, you said. So I will visit your temple.
I will enter in prayer, and I will leave in prayer.
I wish you peace. I wish you abundant love. I wish you goodness, and light, and laughter all of your existence.
Joni Mitchell has been singing to me too, Mom:
“It’s coming on Christmas They’re cutting down trees They’re putting up reindeer And singing songs of joy and peace Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”
“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!” I just kept saying it over and over for several days, as if I could conjure you. I was lost. My guttural howls could not take away the emptiness.
I knew I would not be prepared. How could I be?
I thought our relationship was solid and clean, but regret has inched in anyway. Why couldn’t I save you? Did I do enough? Was I a good daughter, Mom? Did you feel loved and cared about?
I am limited, and I wish with all my heart I could have made your life better. I never got beyond thinking about how to do that, and everything we talked about doing felt like moving a mountain.
I imagine you’re free and flying around in the spirit world – or have you reincarnated (which was your fervent desire)?
It breaks my heart to think you might have stepped into another life – abandoning me again. I was too much for you – your children were too much – so you left, even if not physically. I was a child and needed you Mom. All your children needed you. I still feel like I need you.
I can understand how difficult your life was, and I know you loved us, but love is also a verb.
I forgave you as life went on, and I thought we got whole. I guess the onion metaphor is apt, but how many damn layers are there?
You did make living amends when I had my son, your only grandson. You were such a great grandmother. You helped heal so many of my childhood wounds, but your passing opened them again.
I wanted you to be here my whole life, as unrealistic as that is. I would have kept you suffering in your painful body for my selfish desire to have you near me, like I owned you or something. Like you somehow belonged to me – and I think that’s a trauma bit from when I was so very little, and so much terribleness was happening in our family, and in the world – just like it is again.
You’re lucky Mom. You got out. You’re not suffering anymore.
Do you miss being here though? Or is it better “there”? Where is“there”? Are you conscious? Is consciousness outside of the body, and we just believe it’s in the brain, or are you completely gone?
Please forgive me for my lack, Mom. Please forgive what I couldn’t manage. I don’t know if it was my job to make life the best it could be for you, but it feels like I failed you.
I liked our conversations and our mostly shared values and morals. I am grateful for the time I got with you. I am so glad I was close enough physically and emotionally to help you and spend time with you regularly.
I had wanted to do a “Tuesdays with Morrie” thing with you, but never got it together. I was going to call it “Wednesdays with Mom.” I have never been accused of being original.
Today is Wednesday, so, I guess I’ve begun. If you’re answering me, I’m too dull to hear it. I keep waiting for a sign that you’re still around, but I would doubt whatever you would send me anyway – and you probably know that – so why waste your energy?
Energy is something I absolutely know you still have because of the first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed. It can only change form or increase. Physicist I am not. I don’t even understand much of it beyond the simplest of terms. Not that I don’t try. I blame my love of standing in front of Dad’s Lincoln Continental and breathing in the leaded gas fumes coming out of the car’s grill for my intelligence deficits. Sweet Jesus, why didn’t anyone stop me? I was 5? Did you even know about that, Mom? I doubt it.
Now, of course, we know that the leaded gas was spewing toxic lead into the air and landing everywhere, especially into my tender lungs and organs and bones as I stood there breathing deeply.
You wanted to make it to 103 years to best your Dad’s 102 years on earth, but you missed 90 by two months instead. Still, not a bad stretch.
I believed you though. My whole life you repeated that like a mantra. You were going to live to 103. It was just a fact we all accepted. You seemed to know, but obviously it was just hope.
And maybe you would have made that milestone if you didn’t drink so much, or if you had let us clean up your mildewing/ moldy stuff trailer while you lived – or if I was able to follow through on getting you a new-to-you trailer, or a tiny house that could have given you those 13 more years?
I know that what I was able to do was worthwhile. I have some sweet memories to savor. My job now is to keep the bitterness from spoiling them.
It was my father’s birthday yesterday. He died in 2003 and I miss him a lot sometimes. He had some charming qualities like his sense of humor, and his charismatic personality. His moods and actions could change in an eye blink, but when he was ‘on’ there was no better entertainment around. He was highly intelligent and quick-witted, as well as tall and handsome.
I sense him around me sometimes when I work out at the gym. If it’s truly his spirit I feel, and not just my active imagination, I guess he approves of me taking care of my body.
I miss hearing him say: ‘Oh, run down, tired, used up – doing just fine’ – or several variations – when I’d call and ask him how he was. He could bark exactly like Dino from, The Flintstones, and could make up fantastic ditties, poems and limericks on the spot. He told me that he had gotten drunk at a party one time in his twenties and began ‘speaking in tongues’. There was a woman at the party who told him he had just spoken perfect Gaelic. My father is Scots-Irish, but never knew any Gaelic.
It’s unfortunate that we never developed a better relationship, but I am forever grateful that he apologized to me for his violence and terror when I was a child, and for not being the parent he should have been. Regardless of that being somewhat ‘too little, too late’, it is certainly better than not at all.