Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A letter to my mother

The call came in early on Monday morning.   I have always wondered how I would feel when I found out you died.  I figured I would feel indifferent and often wondered if anyone would remember to call me since I had not had contact with you for ten years. My sister had called me a little after 5 in the morning.  I admit I ignored the the ringing phone when I saw who it was.  Nothing good ever comes from random phone calls from my sister.  I waited for it to go to voice mail so that I could decide when to call her back.  "Sarah, our Mom died, please call me."  I was surprised by my child-like tears and wails that poured out of me the moment I heard of your passing. I felt like a small child that had lost her mother, then I realized I was a child and I had lost my mother.   That day it was forever and that hurt so much, there was no going back since I had already lost you so long ago.

I became frantic.  I began trying to grasp memories of us together, GOOD memories and nothing would come to mind.  I gathered what few pictures I could find of you that I had and announced to the world that I had lost my mother.  I needed to get it out and over with so that I could do what I have been doing all my life..moving on without you.  I couldn't do it, I couldn't stop crying, couldn't stop feeling guilty that I didn't reach out.  Feeling sad for opportunities lost.  I'm glad you will never know that I was within 20 miles of you in June.  I was attending a conference in Long Beach, the same town you lived in.  The whole time I was in Long Beach I thought of you.  I had my daughter with me, my Amelia.  My mini me.  I watched her playing on the beach and imagined you watching me playing on those same shores.  Did I once make you happy?  I wrestled with the decision to call you, let you meet my daughter but feared rejection for me but mostly for her.  Now I will never know.

Then came the condolences.  I felt like a fraud when people offered hugs and support and, "sorry for your loss."  While I appreciated all of the outpouring love, I couldn't shake the feeling of being something I'm not.  I am a grieving daughter but not in the sense anyone else might grieve.  I grieve that I cannot remember anything exceptionally happy about what little of my childhood I spent with you.  I feel guilty that I feel I should write a tribute to you and can't think of what to say.  So I'm going to be honest.  Mental illness or not..you were a horrible mother.  I know some of it you couldn't help but it doesn't make the hurt any less.

This is the house that we last lived in together. It's less than two miles from where I live now.  I pass by this house frequently and think of our time there.  You had left your husband in California, my step-dad.  It was just you, me and my sister.  You worked at a bar and was gone a lot.  I remember you yelling at us to get out of bed on school mornings, screaming at us to be quiet while you continued to sleep.  My sister and I would get ourselves ready for school.  Often, there would be no food in the refrigerator and we would go to school hungry.  I'm guessing that this hardship was what led you to your next decision...

The picture is grainy but if you look close you can see the steps outside of the house by the front door.  Remember? This was my grandmother's farmhouse, it is also about 2 miles from where I live now.  When I was six, you started dropping us off there on weekends to reacquaint with my Dad and his new family.  Every Sunday you would come back to get us and while our lives in that little house was hard, it was our life.  One Sunday, I sat there for so long and you didn't come.  You had decided that it was best if my sister and I lived with our Dad.  You didn't say good-bye... my six year old heart still aches sometimes when I drive past this house.

After your death, I became desperate to know that you thought of me sometimes.  My sister had talked to you the night before you died, the first time in two years.  She does not say that you mentioned me.  I asked my step-father if she ever talked about me.  You would think a white lie would be appropriate at a time like this, but to no avail, he said no.  I asked him if she ever regretted leaving me that day at the farmhouse.  According to him, she had not, she had moved on..wow.

My comfort came to me a few days after you died.  I was talking to my sister and she was telling me that she was already up the morning that you died and she got the call.  I too, had been awake it was 430 am and I thought I heard a sound, felt something.  I got up and wondered around trying to figure out why I was so awake while 500 miles away my sister was doing the same thing. We later found out that this was around the time they think you died, 230 am, California time.  I believe you were healed at the moment of your death, Mom.  I think you came to tell us that you were okay and that we are loved. I am grateful for that moment. I will see you again and all our grief will be erased.  Until then, rest in peace.

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