You think you’re strong – that you can bounce back from anything – and then you lose a focal point that’s been in your life from the very beginning. That one attachment that’s always been there – no questions asked. You’re loved unconditionally, no matter how bad you fuck up.
And then it’s gone from the immediacy of your life. And whether you see this person every day, or only once a month, it’s still jarring – that totality of knowing that this person is now unreachable. You can’t visit, you can’t call. That part of your life just…stops.
I know so many of my friends who hate their parents, or who are estranged from them. I grieve for them, that they were never able to experience with their own parents the kind of relationship that I had with my mom. I grieve for them as I can finally let myself grieve for her now – now that all the paperwork is finished and all the obligations of the living after those who have passed on have completed.
I was the last person she spoke to before she left this world and I couldn’t even understand what she was saying. I did my best to reassure her that I’d see her soon. Even though she’d been badly injured, I couldn’t get to her. She’d been badly injured before and had made it through it, so I guess I figured that this time wouldn’t really be any different. She was like the energizer bunny – she just kept going, no matter how much it hurt. The bad snowstorm that hit D.C. last weekend was coming in and I told her that I’d be up this weekend instead to see her, figuring that I’d have time. ..but I didn’t know she’d be leaving so quickly. I find myself conflicted because she was bedridden for years and her quality of life was pretty awful. She’d long lost her ability to read, to cook, to walk. She could barely see the TV. She was in almost constant pain. And even though I wouldn’t have her stay to continue to suffer to be here for me – to be my best friend – I miss the hell out of her. She’d be irritated that I’m grieving over the loss of her, but it’s my loss to bear until it eases. She can suck it up. After all, she’s dead now, so what’s she gonna do? *sigh*
“Do you want a viewing?” Christ, no – I don’t want a viewing. We don’t want to remember her ill and god knows she didn’t want us to. We wanted to remember her vibrant and smiling, so we followed her wishes and chose cremation with private familial services. My stepfather picked out small brass hearts that the funeral home will be enclosing the ashes in for us. I’ll be driving up to West Virginia to get the rest of her ashes – all four pounds of them, next week. I’m trying to come up with an urn design that I know she would like, and then I’ll be sending the design to a friend that’s a potter down in Tennessee that said she would make it for me. I know that at the very least, I want a lid with little holes at the top so that she can look out at the world whenever she wants to. I then plan to take a little bit of mom on all the trips I go on, since she was too sick to travel for so long. I’m also looking for a small, tasteful enclosure that I can place some of her ashes in that I can wear around my neck with the ashes of my good friend Bear who passed in 1998.
Man, she was a cool fuckin’ broad. She was a concert pianist at one point in her life, and I remember growing up learning how to play a baby grand piano that she would always play Für Elise on until it almost made me crazy. Even today I can’t hear the song without an eye twitch. I remember dad teaching me to play the song Has Anybody Seen My Gal and my mom rolling her eyes as I tried playing it over and over. It was a subtle battle of piano wits between us, I think. She painted – which I didn’t know until my stepfather showed me and my brother a painting she did while we were up there visiting and helping out this weekend. She wrote – in among all the old family pictures we pored over this weekend, we found a children’s story that she’d written that my brother is going to illustrate and see if he can get published in both their names. She traveled. She was an amazing typesetter and graphic designer. During demonstrations on the D.C. Mall, she would shuttle people from the suburbs into the city. And when her daughter was a sometimes ungrateful punk rock bitch, she’d still take in friends of mine who had been beaten or damaged by their own families and let them feel welcome for a time in our odd little family. She was a foster parent to numerous grateful kids that she helped, eventually taking in two teenage boys that became permanent and beloved family. She typeset an entire cookbook full of the recipes that she’d collected and come up with over the years that was filled with outstanding little cooking tips and tricks. The cover reads, “Your Sainted Mother’s Cookbook”. It’s one of the coolest presents she ever gave me. She brought light, laughter and a scathing sardonic wit wherever she went. She apparently also thought the world of the boyfriend – and he has found himself surprised with the loss that he feels at her parting as well. They didn’t know each other long, but got on like a house afire. I’m really glad she got to meet him before she left.
The memories of her remain – and because I love her fiercely I’ll do my best to keep them alive, but as all things pass into the next world, she is now gone from this one, and the loss hurts. The tears start and stop at the strangest times, although I’ve been doing a good job of fending them off them since monday.
Now, I can let them come. I don’t have to be strong for anybody else to help ease her passing for them, so now I can let go.
Vaya con Dios, mom. Give those bitches up there hell.
Love you. Miss you.
Your horrible daughter.