Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's hard to join the two halves of my personality when it comes to my mother, I loved her and admired her, but I find myself also feeling like she was so cold, sometimes borderline cruel.  My father told me that she rarely told him she loved him.  And I remembered that he was right, she rarely told us she loved us.  Not without being prompted.  And even then it was more over the last few years.  It wasn't until a few years ago that she would end her conversation with "I love you," and even then it was because I had said it first. 

When she was in her final days she was convinced she had been a horrible mother.  She was saying it over and over.  And I kept telling her she was a good mother and told her about the good memories- the home made play-doh, the water fights in summer, the fact that she wasn't overbearing and that she had let us be us, but a small part of me wanted to point out to her that she had not been a perfect mother.  She rarely praised us, she never told us how she felt about us, other people told us she was proud of us but she didn't.  But what purpose would it serve to kick a dying woman while she is already down?  It would have served no purpose to make her feel worse in her final days.  But it left me with so many things left unsaid.  Things that should have been said years ago but never were because I just didn't know what to say. 

And those things you always promised you would tell her before she died, but while she was dying you didn't want to say it because you fear it will be admitting she is dying.  In the end, I never said much, just kept telling her I loved her.  Because I did. I do.  Flawed though she was, she was my mother.  It's not as if we were perfect children.  We hated each other, fought constantly, we truly just seemed to live to just be evil to each other.  And she had to live with the constant fighting and our refusal to ever like each other, or reconcile with each other.  We are all three past the age where this is just sibling rivalry. 

And in the middle sat my mother, wanting a family like you see on tv, the kids who at the end of the day will always love each other, a husband who is able to juggle work and life deftly and seamlessly, and a bit more money in the bank than they ever had.  And there she sat with three children who truly hated each other, a husband never home always at work, and a bank account just barely in the black most years.  She did the best she could.  It's all I have to comfort myself with.  She tried.  She wanted us, she loved us, she just didn't know the best way to show it.  I guess that's how I make those two personalities collide- by accepting that we are all not perfect  and she did the best she knew how.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I know I suffer from denial.  I can easily forget for hours at a time that she is gone.  I don't live with them anymore.  I can think that she is home with dad.  At their house, I can make myself believe she is at camp without me.  But at camp, the one place I thought I would be ok at, at camp she is haunting me.  I am the only one of my siblings who ever stayed there for long periods of time without her.  I am the one who begged them not to sell it when she first got sick, because they thought no one would want it.  They gave the camp to me.  And I thought I would be the only one who would be ok there, because I have always loved it there. 

Yet, there, in her beloved camp, she is EVERYWHERE.  Her laughing, her joking, her singing, it's there.  The little nick-knacks I helped them collect there, the things my brother's hated and called excessive- the singing bears and the stuffed moose- "over-the-top" they complained, each of those things she delighted in and I loved to buy them.  She is in each of those things.  Her ashes are there. 

She wanted them there.  The one place she truly loved and felt happy.  There is where the grief becomes real, oppressive, it sits on my chest and presses down on me.  There is where I know for sure that she is gone, even when I see her there reading on the deck, kayaking on the lake, or stoking the fire picking on me because somehow I am unable to get a fire going or keep it going. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013


This is my grief, raw, open, deep and so hard to understand.  I loved my mother, I know that I loved her.  But there are times when I find myself completely fine with her loss, after only 2 months I fear I am handling this too well.  I barely cry, barely give her much thought.  And then it will hit me, and I dissolve into the madness of grief.  That irrational bargaining that comes with wanting just one more year, a day...even an hour to see them once more.  That sadness that fills all the hollows of your body and overwhelms you.  You can't move, can't think, can barely breath.  I don't dare to breath, I hold my breath to keep from screaming.     

I have such guilt, such futile desire to have her back for one more day to make up for 36 years of stupid mistakes.  All the times you hurt her, all the times you made her mad and all the promises you made that you did not keep.  It would take more than one day, one year, one lifetime to fix my blunders.  How do you fix what you broke when the only person left who cares is you?  And given the chance, I am not entirely sure I could.  I got a second chance after her first cancer, but I went on with my life and blundered through five more years of our weird, strained and loving relationship never sure where I stood with her.
I loved her, I hated her, I knew her so well, and know so little, I wanted to be her, and wanted not to be anything like her, I admired her and I reviled her.  They say this is the typical mother-daughter dynamic.  My aunt says that this was how it was between my mother and grandmother.  My mother never told people what she felt about them, she didn't tell you she loved you, not without prompting- not the first person to say it on the phone.  She never told me she was proud of me.  I always knew I was the child who blundered through life unaware of how to just be a adult.  I know they were proud of my brothers, I heard them say it enough. 

I wanted so much to have more time, for me.  Not for her.  I know this.  I needed to prove myself to be more than they thought I am.  I needed her to see me as a success so I could show her I was worthy of love, that I was someone to be proud of.  In the end, I think my grief is purely selfish.  That her  loss has settled into my thoughts as how her death effects me, not how I have lost her my mother the woman who gave birth to me and raised me.  Instead, it is about how I have lost my mother the woman who I use as a mirror to show me who I am.