10 Years On: Rembering My Dead Mother

I haven’t been funny in days.
I’m moody and full of vitamin-Cunt tonight.
I couldn’t figure it out.
What’s eating me? Why am I spiralling into a darker and darker place? Why do I hate the idea of attending any of the 3 parties to which I was invited tonight? Why does the idea of just being civil to others fill me with a questionable revulsion I can’t fathom?
Why? Why? Why?
I couldn’t conjure happy-engaging Steff an hour or two ago, prompting a fella to comment that I didn’t sound very happy. Was my day just long? Where was I coming from emotionally?
BOOM. Then it hit me — snuck up and sucker-punched me, more like.
It’s the start of two weeks of Dead Mom anniversaries.
Next week, the 15th, is the day they found her cancer during a routine hysterectomy. “No, don’t worry about it! Only one in 10,000 fibroids is cancerous!” Like the grapefruit-sized one in you, you mean? The one that metastasized while the medical system was going through social-system strikes, you mean?
Yeah. Right.
And February 21st would have been my mother’s 68th. She died at 57.
As much as I want to pretend I’m past it all and healthy and good, even after 11 years, my heart fucking breaks sometimes at how much I KNOW I lost when she died.
She was my hero. She never realized that. I don’t have a lot of regrets with my mother, thank God, but I wish she knew more of how much I idolized her. She had no question I loved her, but her confidence problems might’ve prevented her from ever realizing the hero factor. That saddens me. She deserved to know.
But how many of us really believe the others in our lives when they tell us how much we impact them? Not many. So I take comfort in the fact that it’s more her humanity that prevented her from knowing that, than it was my failure to school her in it. Because I tried.
God, how flawed she was.
So many shortcomings and insecurities and places she never went in life. So many dreams she had that she never fulfilled. Flawed, flawed, flawed. Died broke, even.
And still she was my hero.
It’s who we are in the face of who we’re sometimes unable to be that really speaks volumes about our character. The things we stand for when just being on our feet is more than we could’ve asked for, that says infinite things about us.
And those deciding factors made my mother a giant amongst women.
She was the kind of person everyone respected and held in great esteem. She never had much money or “proper” social standing, but you couldn’t fault her on integrity. You couldn’t ignore her goodness and everywomanness. You’d be wowed by the vast array of people from varying walks of life she knew — even though she felt undereducated and too impoverished to mix with some of them.
There are a lot of ways in which I’m stronger, tougher, and more outspoken than my mother, but my core values — the goodness, the generosity, the truthfulness, my trustworthiness, my work ethic — these qualities were all, without a doubt, implanted by my parents. Whatever my parents weren’t, there was no doubt in their goodness.
Tonight I guess the loss has hit home for a rare night of sorrow. This doesn’t happen to me very often anymore. It’s 10 years gone now. For four or five years, I was just crushed.I was drunk more than sober, depressed 24/7, and not particularly motivated to change that.
But it’s not like I got a call from someone saying my mother was dying.
Unlike a lot of people my age who are motherless in the last decade, I was living with her and caring for her in the last months. I GUESSED she was dying before there was even a diagnosis. Three months before the “cancer” word even came up.
There is too much I saw that no child should see happen to a parent.
Like seeing things that can’t be unseen.
Nights like tonight are when those visuals flood back upon me, and what rises in me is an anger and a hatred that she ever needed to face those moments of humiliation and inhumanity.
A death like cancer isn’t fair to anyone. Least of all those doing the dying.
Especially when they lose their colon and have to shit into a plastic bag burrowed into their belly.
When they used to be a red-headed fashion model every guy crushed on.
Like Mom.
And that was only the beginning of the vanity-killers doled upon her. I don’t want to write the worst of what I saw. I don’t want it to be that real for me. Not now, not ever. I’d rather pretend, thank you.
My god, how well she dealt with the blows to her beauty. In a moment of weakness, she confessed to how ugly she felt.
And it broke my heart.
I was overweight, insecure, and the only thing I knew growing up was that my mom was GORGEOUS. Just GORGEOUS. I had HER genes. Wow! Lucky me. If I got my shit together, one day I could look like her.
To see her lose her self-esteem and feel so ugly and flawed before her death was such a sorrow. It crushed more than just my illusions.
I wonder now if my mood began this morning because my hair was falling a certain way and, when I looked in the mirror, I saw my mother’s features staring back at me. In my 30s now, after losing 65+ pounds, I’m finally starting to look a little like my mother’s daughter, the mother she was when I was a girl.
But, today, the first thing I saw was my mom looking back at me. Not me, but my mother’s features. And a pang hit me then.
I didn’t know it was growing, that pang of pain. But I guess it was.
I didn’t think I’d find myself in tears tonight when I chose to stay home from those parties. I didn’t know what was eating me. I don’t know how I realized it.
But now I know what’s eating me. The stream of tears down my face as I write this is pretty much all the evidence I need.
I know I’ll go to bed hurting and feeling alone tonight, angry at all the years and conversations and hugs and needs that have been robbed from me in those 10+ years I’ve been without my mother.
But I’ll wake up tomorrow and the sun’ll be shining and it’ll be a near-record-breaking warm February day and somehow, yeah, it’ll all be easier in the morning. It really will be.
Tonight, though, I’m a little lost in the things I’m remembering.
And that’s the least she deserves. Remembering.
Even if it hurts for a little while.

5 thoughts on “10 Years On: Rembering My Dead Mother

  1. NinjaPonyDad

    I was wondering why I gravitated toward your posts. This is it, the truth.
    The truth no one says or allows themselves to feel. Your writing is truly on fire, you bring it all back, not just for yourself.
    This week I went to two ceremonies for dead friends, one a mother at 28, with babies, cancer.One a close buddy, killed on vacation. Today while you were feeling your vitamin C, I almost couldn’t move, an exhaustion from way inside.
    I don ‘t have words to say to you other than you are not alone.
    That’s some powerful stuff.
    Good night. Good night.

  2. Michael

    Know that you are not alone. We have a lot in common. My mother had a stroke in May 1995 & passed in December 1995. So needless to say that Christmas & New Years don’t find me in a jolly mood. I also witnessed a vivacious woman who loved life and cherished her grandkids (my son was born in March of 1995), turn into a quiet inhibited person who held in her pain while I was around her because she always thought of others first. She passed when I was 29; still a kid in a lot of ways. I never had the chance to take her to dinner, to spend one on one time to talk about things, foolishly thinking that your mother will be with you forever. Well, mothers ARE with you forever, just not in the way we wish them to be. I try to keep myself thinking that I will see her again. Will I? One can only hope.
    Thanks for sharing,

  3. artsyshell

    What a beautiful post. Besides the fact that you are such a gifted writer, you should be honored. Honored that you had the realtionship, no matter how flawed, long or short with your mother. She will always be special, and someone that mattered. Your memories will always be special. Some of us have mothers that are still alive, and will never mean or achieve a place in our hearts the way your mother did. It’s not the length of time we have with our loved ones but the quality. Sounds like yours was A+. I envy you and your memories…memories that will last a life time, as long as you let them. Don’t grieve the loss, but celebrate the life, the memories, and the gifts that were so obviously passed on to you. Someone that special doesn’t die…not really.

  4. shannonrich

    I finally got around to reading your post all the way through. I saw just the first few paragraphs the other day and had to stop reading. I lost my mom to lung cancer 6 years ago. She was also 57 when she passed. Her birthday would have been on Feb 24th.
    Thankfully for her sake she went fast but I was with her that final week and I saw things that I will never be able to erase from my memory as well. And I get angry because those are the last images I will remember of her and it’s not fair.
    I was an only child and my mom was my best friend. I am so sad that she never got to see me get married or have two beautiful children or to be a shoulder to cry on when my marriage fell apart. It crushes me sometimes the pain of not having her around. It helps knowing that someone else feels the same way. Realize that you aren’t alone in your feelings and your situation. I loved your post and your mom would be so proud of you!

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