dear mom

“You are evidence of your mother’s strength, especially if you are rebellious.” – Criss Jami

dear mom,
I have conversations with you in my head: while doing dishes, while driving, and occasionally in my dreams. we haven’t spoken in years. I fear I’ve forgotten your voice. the other night I nearly broke down in tears because I couldn’t remember the shape of your teeth when revealed by your real smile.

grief is a head fuck. that’s for sure.

remember all those years I snuck into bed with you? dad was always traveling and I was the worrier of the family. my nightmares were stories of being lost from you. you knew this. we had the push pull relationship of mother and child vying for space, independence, and togetherness.

I think of you all the time. as I look into the eyes of my emotional son, his temperament is so similar to mine. I see how hard it must have been for you to parent me. he feels everything so deeply. (and still the cat must be fed and beds be made and dinner prepared.) I have so many things I’d love to ask you. but as you once told me about your own mother: “she died too soon, before she could teach me.”

you haven’t died but you have left your body, and there’s nothing to do but work our way through grief.

back before your diagnosis you mustered the energy to attempt the computer, frustrating as it was for you. it’s the last note I received from you, time stamped 2009. two sentences, reminding me of my strength and the grace you witnessed as I mothered my son.

he was four. I was thirty-four and a year into my rocky divorce.

next week I will turn thirty-nine. we are similar, you and I. floating through life with this piece of ourselves missing. patching holes with strength and sheer stubbornness. loss following us like a shy shadow, not ever dominating the mood with melancholy, but always present in our mind and hearts. I imagine you at my age, motherless like me and wondering if you were doing it right. wondering what piece of advice would have made it easier… if only our mothers could have been there to share stories from their own life experience. instead, we gather our girlfriends around, our honorary aunties, our mother figures… and we open our hearts because what else is there to do? love is the only thing to stamp out fear.

river has recently been asking me “why” …as the world grows vast to him, there are so many unanswered questions. why did my nana get sick? why did someone kidnap that girl in our town? why was Martin Luther King Jr killed? and it breaks a part of my heart to have to explain to him that sometimes we go through life simply not knowing why people do what they do. sometimes we are expected to go through life with questions unanswered and hearts confused. I think to myself all the whys that I have unanswered in my own mind. why you can’t be here with me on this leg of my journey – cause I surely could use your presence in my life right now. you would be here in my living room. you would bring the boys art supplies and books. we would talk for hours and walk for miles. we would cry and vent to one another. but mostly we would laugh.

I love you, mom. I miss you very much. thanks for watching over me.