i find myself spellbound in tearjerking memories, masochistically flipping through old photographs that painfully tear open my heart, yet leave me remembering… remembering her. someone i loved. and still love. with all my heart. my mom.
it’s not easy talking about tragedy. it’s not easy exposing my ripe scars to perfect strangers. it’s not easy thinking back on all the things i wish i had done better. for me, it’s not easy to talk about my mother. not because i don’t want to remember… quite the opposite. it’s mostly because i want to remember. as life moves on, the reality of time with my mother moves farther and farther into the distant past. distinct memories i have remain strong, but new ones don’t form. i have to rely on the past to satiate my motherless future. most of the time we have continuous relationships with our parents, that, although sometimes tedious or overbearing, grow into something beautiful with age. we begin to understand them, as we get older ourselves. as once headstrong, rebellious, know-it-all teenagers, we bullheadedly stomp our way through “life as we know it” and make mistakes… learn lessons… thrive in all too menial drama. then we hit the real world (or so we think) and have to begin to fend for ourselves. we build our own social networks based on our chosen activities. we choose our own jobs based on our interests and skill sets. we pay for our own mistakes in various different ways. we form our own opinions about political and social issues. and then… we hit the real world. all through this, our parents are in their next stage of life. going through menopause. deciding about retirement. adjusting to new technologies and changing ways. becoming parent’s again… of a grander type. all stuff we will, eventually, go through. we begin to understand their wisdom ever so slightly. their discipline, their opinions, their likes and dislikes. we begin to appreciate and understand them just a bit more. this is normal. this is how life should be.
for me, i remember my mother in a very different light. a light of the past. i interact with her in memories. and i am reminded of how beautiful and special she was. not just to me, but to all of those she touched. my mother was a beautiful human being, with talents that spanned so many levels. she loved to garden, she loved to sing, she loved to love, she loved to smile. and she had an infectious smile. she was brilliant and meticulous. her attention to detail was so definitive, which also explained her way with design. she created beautiful spaces that brought to life feelings… evoked emotion. she was an amazing parent, always challenging you to be the best you could be. to try everything you thought you wanted to try. to work hard at anything you did. she would wake up every morning to drive me to skating practice at 5am. she would be at every competition i was in, and i could see pride in her eyes when i would win. she would come out to every volleyball game i had at school, even if the gym was empty. sometimes i would be embarrassed since she was the only one there, but her support was unwavering. i cherish her love and support for me, now, more than ever, and only hope i can show my kids the same, embarrassing sort of love. she was loyal and caring and generous and thoughtful. she was always a friend. i hear this from many of her friends still. one winter, years after my mother passed away, our car broke down in a snow storm just outside of our house. what i thought was a complete stranger came up to us in a winterized vehicle (totally prepared for the weather) and offered to help us. we were thankful, but we didn’t need help, we needed to get to a christmas dinner with our family, although it didn’t look like it was going to happen. right there, on the spot, she offered us her car. she said “your mother was such an amazing woman and she would do the same for me, i know it”. she refused to take no for an answer and when we tried to protest, walked away on foot with her car in our driveway, key in ignition and running. she lived a couple of blocks away, and none of us had ever met her… but my mother had made a lasting impression, that even years after she had passed away was cherished. that was the type of woman my mother was.
this is a post i hesitate to write and post, but it’s one that i will happily open up my own journal to re-read and look at. i know that although my mother is gone from her physical presence on this planet, she still lives on in so many ways. it may sound silly, but i often think of her when i’m in the water surfing. or the wind picks up suddenly. or something happens to me that saves me from making a big mistake. or an animal makes eye contact with me with such an intense stare that i think they know something about me that i don’t. the other morning, at 5 am, i heard the most strange bird chirping, over and over again. i couldn’t sleep. i thought it was some sort of an alarm at first. but no, it was a bird with a very beautiful and unique sound. i chuckle to myself now, thinking, perhaps it was some reincarnation of my mom… getting me back for the mornings she couldn’t sleep in because she had to take me to skating at 5am. her familiar smile in a photograph makes it seem like only yesterday that i was a young kid that was the lucky object of her warm and strong embrace. i hug people these days with the same deliberate strength that my mother hugged me. that is how i know she still lives on.
“don’t grieve. anything you lose comes around in another form.” ~ rumi