Today is a bittersweet day: it’s my mom’s birthday.
She would have been 74 today, but she passed away on September 26, 2011. And I miss her terribly. The feeling of knowing you will never be able to reach out and talk to or touch someone you love is pretty rough; it can feel like being stabbed in the heart sometimes. I know I can reach out to her in my mind, or talk to her out loud, but it’s definitely not the same thing.
Now our relationship was not perfect or harmonious. We fought, A LOT, and I was not a good daughter. I did not reach out and keep in touch like I should have. And then it was too late. The guilt can be overwhelming. It is probably one of my biggest regrets, one I cannot fix. I remember the last time I saw her, and I wanted to believe she would get better (she had cancer). I remember her giving me instructions on what needed to be done and what I didn’t have to do. I remember telling her I didn’t want to hear it because I didn’t need to; she would be ok. I remember getting the call from my dad 2 weeks after I left that she had passed away.
I am glad she didn’t suffer long. She went into the hospital on August 14th (their 40th wedding anniversary) because she couldn’t keep food down. I did not get a call until September from the hospital; I had no idea for weeks. I was so scared when I went to visit her because I hadn’t seen her in awhile and I didn’t want to see her emaciated with illness, but she looked fine. A bit older, but not sick. My mom being my mom, she’d called the police on the hospital for keeping her there. Multiple times I think. She’d lost track of time. She didn’t know where she was. When scared, she’d strike back.
My brother Darin and I had gotten into a huge fight when I was home. See he’d skipped town awhile back doing who knows what. And all of a sudden he shows up on their doorstep. Of course they took him in. While there, he stayed in my old room, and I was in my youngest brother’s room, right next to each other. One day Darin just starts yelling at me for going into his room. I flipped my shit and we yelled at each other for a good hour. I spewed horrible things, none of which I regret, then or now. Turns out he ended up being more of a rock than I would have expected, but it was too late for us. I went home after a week. And then mom was gone.
I had some unexpected friends then. Something that still surprises me when I think of it. And I now understood what it was like to lose a parent. Until you lose a loved one, you never truly understand what that feels like. You can imagine it, and think you know, but it’s nowhere near that, because there’s a lot of emotions and unexpected reactions and pain that comes in varying degrees. And of course there is also the memories, and the fondness, and smiles. Your have been scarred, and your perception of things changes. You slow down a bit, and there is awareness of how precious life is. It gets lost sometimes when you are caught up in everyday life, but it never leaves you completely. You are reminded at random and at expected times. You move on and create your own life without your loved one. This is what we do.
I miss you, mom.