Sunday, May 9, 2010

my body remembered Mother's Day before I did

Both my sister and I have been sick this past week.  She had a flu/cold/upper respiratory infection, while I ended up with some sort of stomach/nausea issue, where I kept throwing up.  I'd start to feel better, go to work/do stuff, and it would hit again.

Friday, after talking to my doctor because I just couldn't get myself to work without feeling like crap (my sister was back on her feet by then), I realized that I think it was mostly mental/anxiety/stress leading to it.  It also hit me that Sunday (today) was Mother's Day.  This is only the second Mother's Day without my mother, and last year, since she had only been dead for a few months, Mother's Day felt no different than most days.  Maybe that's why I think this year, despite being overwhelmed with the "Don't forget to celebrate mother's day" media bombs, I had repressed a lot of my feelings about it.

Add to it that my sister was sick in the same way that my mother was the last time I talked to her and it was a recipe for disaster.  You see, my mother had the flu, she swore she was getting better.  The last thing I said to her was, "Do you need anything?  No?  Okay, goodnight."  And the next morning, I woke up and she was dead.  Gone.  No explanation, no time to accept it, and no preparation like I had with my dad (which is a story in and of itself, being eleven years old and constantly going to the hospital because it was time to "say goodbye to daddy" again and again - the man was testing us and himself, I think), and no more chances to deal with all of the unresolved issues with my mother.

my dad & mom

I miss my mother.  We had so many issues, I could fill a magazine rack, but outside of that, she was my mommy.  She ended up having to raise me and my sister herself because my dad died when I was eleven and my sister was eight.  For tons of reasons I'm still trying to work through, it became a very tight unit of the three of us.  It was us against the world.  Everyone else seemed to fall away, caught up in their own lives, and even once I was an adult, it became really hard to be an adult apart from my mother.

I wish I could say that I don't notice her absence every day.  Whoever said it only takes a year to grieve is a big liar or much less codependent than I have ever been.  I still wake up some mornings from dreams where my mother is alive and it takes a quick second for it to dawn on me that she's really gone.  I still see some weird reminder of her and want to sob or yell about how unfair this is.  Why did this happen to me?  Why didn't I check on her that night?  Why did this happen?  

Mostly, I feel so confused and torn, much like our relationship.  Because I know my mother loved me, that she would give her life for me, but our relationship was tumultuous at best.  We fought all the time, her motto with me was, "if I can't be honest with you, who can" and constantly made me feel like a loser, and then would wonder why I had such issues with self esteem.  She was unhappy and had her own issues and for some reason, I was the one she focused that unhappiness on...and because she and I were a lot alike (combative by nature), our fights could get epic and really mean.

She wasn't perfect, but no one is.  I was harder on her because my dad died before I could truly recognize his imperfections and that made my mother's so much more obvious to me.  I would create the perfect dad in my head, who was never cruel or didn't get me or told me to stop dreaming so much and be practical.  I know that wasn't fair to her, but it's something I'm only starting to realize.
I think, on this Mother's Day, that's what makes me the saddest.  She never wanted to talk about her life, her friends, her relationship with my dad...and once I was an adult, I was so on the defense with her, that I had no patience and couldn't allow myself to be real with her.  I wish I had been able to have this sort of insight before she passed away, to make sure she knew that I loved her no matter what and knew she tried to do her best for me and my sister. 

All I can hope is somewhere she knows that I love her and forgive her for all that she did (or that I perceived she did) wrong, and hope she can forgive me.  I hope she knows that I want to be the daughter who will make her and my father proud, create a good legacy based on all the great things they taught me - to be intelligent and kind and to care about what happens in the world.  And I hope she can see that I'm trying to take her loss to make good changes in my life, to try to make something out of losing her that helps me become a better person.

Really, I just want to say:  I love you, mommy, and I'm sorry and I miss you very much.  I would take another night of fighting about your crazy Republicanism that made no sense over almost anything else.

Note:  I read a much more eloquent piece on Slate, Remembering My Mother on the Holiday She Hated, by

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