I understand my mother better the older I get, especially since she’s been sitting still long enough for me to recognize and empathize who she was and why during her 20s, 30s, 40s and now 50s, by my own joys, mistakes and chaos that has come with each decade. It’s been thirteen years, one month and seven days since she left me all alone on this planet as a happily married, forty two year old mother of six.
Alone in a crowd.
When you can’t call your mom everyday to be calmed and soothed out of your growing pains, to be told “you will indeed survive this my love” or in other cases yelled at and told to “pull your head out of your ass” there is a distinct untethering that happens for a bit. I was, perhaps, a bit maniacal for a few years after she left. It’s hard to say if it was just my raging, hormonal forties, which I watched her experience in epic form but didn’t really understand until now, or simply the result of her dying before I could ask her all of the things that should have been asked had I not still been the self absorbed daughter who so often took more than she gave.
But now I am also a bit more still as I make my way through my fifties. My feet are mostly planted on the ground.
And I chat with her almost everyday.
She reminds me to file my paperwork in the front of the files. She tells me to put on lipstick so I don’t look washed out. She says that I have done a wonderful job and to “pin something on myself”. She tells me to be kind to my husband. She reminds me that “this is just a phase” and to simply wait it out. She scolds me not to drink too much: “do as I say not as I did”. She says in awe that our children are amazing young adults and that I should let go of all the guilt I have over things I did or should have done when it comes to being a mom.
I ask her questions. I tell her thank you often. I tell her I understand her a little better now but also realize that she will always be a bit of a mystery to me.
I tell her I love her. Over and over and over again.
There will be a time, God willing, that I pass the age that she was when she died.
I will not have the milestone to look upon and choose a direction based on the results of her choices at that age or sit in the knowledge of “yes I see now, mom” after emerging, mostly whole from whatever life brought me.
It will be up to me at that point to forge the way into my mid sixties and beyond. And I will carry her with me on the journey.
But for now, she still carries me.