Independence Day, literally.

For two days I have tried to write this entry. I have written paragraphs, only to dissect them and ultimately delete them. Each effort began on a different tone or at a different scene, but the result was always the same: darkness. My mind is like a black, empty void that is scrambling to give description to 14 years of repressed grief.


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy


 

Independence Day, 2002 took a very literal meaning for me when my mother, who was terminally ill with breast Cancer that metastasized to her bone and brain, passed away in the hospital. She was 48.

It wasn’t sudden. My mother fought for 6 years with Cancer and never really went into remission. We were constantly told that she would die, as if she had some expiration date stamped on her arm. My bed-ridden mother was the reality for so long that I guess I perceived it as normal. I didn’t believe that she would die, or at least told myself that I still had plenty of time. Time to talk to her and hear her old stories. Time to play games. Time to drop the teenage attitude and be a better daughter.

There wasn’t enough time.

I don’t remember my mother before she died, with her bald head from too many rounds of chemo or her heart surgery scar. I remember the version of her as she was when I was a small child. I remember her boy haircut, and her big plastic glasses. I remember her red lipstick and her puffy purple coat. I remember how she was the director of Camp Fire boys and girls, and I know now that it’s because she wanted nothing more in her life than to be with her two daughter’s and their friends every day. I remember her borrowing money just to put food on the table. We didn’t usually have much but my mother put us first.

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My mother, cooking in the kitchen, how I remember her.

My mother didn’t make it to my High School graduation. The birth of my first child. My wedding. My divorce! Mother’s Day comes and goes and I’m not sure whether to mourn or celebrate because I am a mother without one. Time goes on but the scars are permanent.

I was left to spend my days with my alcoholic father, who joined her in 2010. I remember so many nights, laying in bed and asking the darkness, why?  My mother’s passing brought my father and I together. So, if there can be any ‘why’, it was that. Nothing helps you understand the fleeting beauty of life more than death. Nothing helps you understand what is important in life more than death. The people in our lives are the most important. The connection, the bond, the stories, and the memories that we share.

The people that you call family, whoever they may be, are your greatest gifts in life. Forget the arguments, the drama, the fights, the blame or the wrongdoings. Grab hold of them. Don’t learn about life from loss.