Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Miss My Mother

When my mother died I was lucky to receive a lot of support from those who knew her and those who knew how important this relationship was to me. I’m not saying our mother-daughter bond was anything special or extraordinary. On the contrary, it was quite normal. And my definition of “normal” in this case is that it was the most important relationship in my life. I truly loved her and for all of my life, never doubted that she was my biggest fan.

The condolence cards and calls were all pretty normal, too. But I noticed there was a common thread and consistent message from those who were already living their lives in the motherless-child category.

In addition to writing, “I’m sorry for your loss,” they also wrote: “My mother’s been dead for (5 or 10 or 15 or 20 or . . .) years and I still miss her terribly.”

At the time, this statement expressed and justified the power of the loss. And to learn that for many, it went on for years, allowed me to accept my grief for the big punch-in-the-gut that it was. I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew my pain was understood. But did I truly understand the concept of the pain being as acute years and years later?

No.


Well, I do now. It’s been nearly 11 years that my mother’s been gone. And it turns out, all those condolence statements were absolutely correct.

Since the day she died, I have not stopped missing my mother.

It’s been particularly difficult for me in the past few weeks because of the novel I just finished writing. I wrote a story called “Irish Twins,” and opted to tell it from my dead mother’s perspective.

It was a fictionalized version of her—which allowed me the liberties I needed to take due to what I didn’t know about her life or her thoughts. In my heart, however, I felt as though she were sitting with me as I wrote each word. Sometimes she came to me in my dreams and I believe she guided me through the work. Throughout the process, she continued being my biggest fan.

After two years of work, typing “THE END” on the last page initially gave me a feeling of relief and accomplishment. But now that a few weeks have gone by and my mom is no longer inside my head guiding my words . . . DAMN! It’s like losing her all over again. And my grief is palpable. If you didn’t know me and I told you my mother died, you might think it had happened yesterday.


Motherhood is, by far, the most challenging experience of my life. I’m grateful for my sisters and my friends who are mothers, who listen and offer support and advice. They constantly remind me that I’m not alone.

But what I wouldn’t give to have the ability to actually talk with or share with my own mother all the things I’m going through on this demanding and perplexing path!

My mom wasn’t perfect—who is?—but she was very good. She was good for me. We didn’t fight and I never doubted her love and support. I want so much to be a good mother and I’m giving it my all. I also want to teach my daughters what it means to be a “good” mother by example, and I want them to believe that I am indeed, their biggest fan and NOT their enemy.

Most of all, I want us to appreciate one another RIGHT NOW . . . Now while it’s all happening and not when it’s too late to feel the warmth of an actual hug and kiss.

I found a couple photos of my mom and me and I can’t stop looking at her. There are no words to express how much I miss her. I believe with all my heart that she knows this.

But even that still leaves me with the sense of loss.


4 comments:

Norah said...

My mother died a year ago today--- so strange to have this pop up first thing in the morning! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Lisa said...

Michele,

Your thoughts and feelings are beautiful. Until I lost my dad, I didn't know how profound the loss of a parent is. Now that he is gone, I miss him so much-it just leaves me heartbroken.

I know your Mom is so happy for you and the wonderful life you have built with Mike and the girls.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I haven't lost any of my parents but I know when I lose one of them, I will feel incredibly depressed. I'm sorry about your loss.

ann

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