I have been avoiding writing this post. I decided last week that for a special Mother’s Day post I was going to write about my Mom. I was looking forward to it, and had a million ideas for the post. But then as the week went on, I slowly started to shut my brain down to the topic, and got grumpier and have felt older this week than I have in a long time. You see, my Mom passed away almost 21 years ago. But it doesn’t seem so long to me. I turn 41 this summer, I was 19 the summer she died.
Big pause here, because I don’t know what to write next…
After my Mom passed away, and after the terrible drive to the hospital the morning she died, where I remember looking out the window of the car at people going to school and work thinking, it’s just a normal day for them, they don’t know that it is the end of the world for me. After the funeral, where I got so angry at all the people who said they loved my Mom, but who were they? After I got so drunk I threw up for the whole next day while people dropped off casserole after casserole…like lasagna was going to make it all better. After my Dad told me to go back to university 2 days after my Mom died, two provinces away from home. After I drank my way through September, dragged myself to school in a blur, stopped sleeping at night, and barely got my work done. After I dropped a course or two because I couldn’t concentrate. After I remembered in a haze that my Mom was really gone…
I fell utterly, and completely, to pieces…
Not just my brain, but my whole body was trying to run away from the sadness. I was staring into a black hole. Sometime that winter, I broke down. I begged my Dad to fly me home. He promptly (due to my visible craziness) made appointments with a therapist and our Pastor (he was covering all the bases). My first appointment was with a clinical psychologist. I walked into her office, and started to bawl and sob. Instantly. She hugged me, a total stranger. And I just cried. Then she wrapped me up in a bunch of pillows and asked me to think about being a baby in my Mom’s arms…that was a little weird, but it worked! I cried like a baby. On the floor, wrapped in pillows. Weird.
We talked about so many things, she wanted to hear about my Mom, to get to know her. I told her. And her response was “she sounds like an amazing woman”, but she also said:
“sometimes, when we have lost someone we love, we put them on a pedestal, and make them perfect in our memory…that isn’t the healthiest way to remember.”
I said to her, ” No, my Mom was not perfect, but she was kind, full of grace and compassion, she rarely judged, she was slow to anger, she had many good friends who loved her, she loved my Dad, she respected him and loved him deeply. She was honest. She listened. She laughed. She sang. She danced in the kitchen. She cuddled. She painted. She had a “conservative” outside, but a “hippy” inside. She carried her faith with dignity and humility. She tolerated my teen years like a saintly probation officer. No, she wasn’t perfect. Yes, she had her flaws (thankfully). But she was my Mom. She was beautiful. And I missed her.
Pause for more crying…(note to self, next time you write a Mother’s Day blog, leave mascara off for the day)
My next appointment was with our family Pastor, Barry. His name should be “Beary” because he is warm and kind, like a big teddy bear. He knew my Mom well, and was there with us through the cancer, and the treatments, and the loss. He was at the door to the hospital room where my already gone Mom was waiting, hovering above…maybe, for our last kisses. His eyes gave me the courage to walk through that door. When I went to see him months later, we talked about the anger, the questions about where she was now. He told me with so much conviction that she was in Heaven, in peace, in the light. He comforted me with those words. But what he said before I left that day has stayed with me all these years:
I said to him, “I won’t be able to ask her what to do anymore, I have no one to help me with everything she helped me with, I won’t be able to remember everything she said, or what she taught me. She won’t see me graduate from university, or get married, she’ll never hold grandchildren”…
He responded “your Mom’s words are in your heart. Her knowledge is in your mind. She will be there when you graduate, and get married, your hands are hers…she will be there when you hold your babies. You are carrying her legacy in everything you do, and she knew that it would be so. And she knew you weren’t perfect. She knew you were flawed. But she loved you with all her heart, and knew you would be ok.”
Pause for more crying…
I’m not going to talk about my Mom’s illness (we all know what cancer looks like), or the long, long, long road to feeling sane and happy again after my Mom died. I refer to my twenties as the “mental decade”. Obviously, due to all the tears it took to write this post, I am in this for life, because it is truly impossible to say a final goodbye to your Mom. I am still mental, but in a good way. I am thankful and feel blessed for having had the love of that woman, even for a short time.
And that is why, I will put that beautiful woman, my Mom, on the pedestal she deserves for a moment. And you should all do the same this Mother’s Day. Lift up your Mommies, and your Grandmamas…wherever they are.
Cherish them, love them, learn from them, and never apologize for making them perfect in your mind!
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