“…the diary that ends too soon.”
– Phoebe Snow “Majesty of Life”
On several occasions I’ve discussed the emotional roller coaster I’ve been on this year, due in large part to missing my mother. I’ve mentioned how hard it has been for me to reconcile myself to the fact that she has been gone almost as long as she was here. There aren’t any words that can express what that does to me. I say all the time that the pain subsides a bit, and is more often than not replaced with memories. I still believe that. But there is this weight that spreads through my chest, that sometimes feels a bit too heavy to bear.
Coincidentally, this is the exact week, to the day (June 27, 1994 also fell on a Monday), that she almost slipped away from us the first time. Her condition had gotten so serious, rumors that she died were already beginning to circulate. (For years I would have dreams that her funeral was just a big mistake. She would walk into my room, or my office and say, “They were wrong again.”) Even in that time, she was so concerned about me having some sense of 17 year-old normalcy. It’s funny how mothers manage to think of their kids first, regardless of the circumstances.
I’m now seventeen years older, and I’m nothing like that girl who had life and death staring her in the face.My mother was far from perfect. Our relationship was far from easy. We were both very fiery creatures who didn’t understand each other until the end. The day after I graduated from high school, I tried to “run away.” She refused to give up on me, despite having every right to do so. I always measure my humanity against her. Would she be proud of the way I embrace people? Would she understand my need to search my own spirituality and soul?
Sometimes I cry, because I have to rely on memories and water damaged pictures of her smile. Other times, she peeks at me through my son’s oddly shaped fingernails, or the point and flair in my daughter’s nose. Still others, I can hear my voice saying her words. I felt her spirit give me the gumption to move to a place that I’d never been, and carve out my own destiny.
Seventeen years later, I still have so much to learn. I’m openly flawed and seeking to be a good person. I can only hope that good feeling I feel ever so often – that radiates through my eyes, smile and fingertips – is the sign that I’m doing my mama proud.