The Death Of a Mother

When I was about fourteen, maybe fifteen, my very intelligent, often witty and joyful, yet sometimes deeply depressed and distantly aloof mother attempted to leave the life she had created for herself–a divorced mother of two adolescents who had opted to leave her and live with their career driven but kind father across town…

At that juncture in my young life, I had no idea looking into the glazed almost lifeless eyes of my overdosed suicidal– barely aborted at the last possible moment by a silently hysterical teen daughter– Momma, my friend, my first editor, my first love, that I would in fact in less than a dozen years from that date, finally have to let her go on her path to death alone, unattended in yet another exhaust filled small garage –this time filled with the fumes of a small cherry red Chevette four door compact.  This week a colleague of mine at the small high school where I work has lost her beloved mom to the infirmaries of old age.  I mourn for her.  It is not ever pleasant to loose one’s mother, no matter what the circumstances. I feel my heart lurching at the thoughts of losing a mom, my mother, a friend’s mother, even an acquaintance’s mother. My heart crunches in my chest, and tears pop to the corner of my eyes, and sting me again from a place of experience that only those who have struggled to keep someone they love here instead of letting go can know. I see the struggle in my students at times, because teens are raw, as I was once a teen and once raw, but my rawness was muted with the knowledge that it was and is all too easy to allow one’s temporary emotional pit to take over.

Mom never allowed hereself to speak about her blackest moments to me, but her eyes never lied. Her presentation to the world was one of very “put together” and “proper” Presbyterian southern lady, not much make up, proper and conservative clothes, Chanel No. 5 perfume, and Ivory soap.  She smelled like an angel, and her prematurely grey hair was covered by a soft auburn dye, which she managed at home by herself. She was independent, a mechanically sound woman able to work on her own lawn mower and car to a great extent, a linguistic genious, a grammatically perfected lady of the 1950’s and 19560’s.  No muss and no fuss, but perfect.  Always speaking and laughing in  perfectly modulated tones, unless the chemicals became unbalanced in her exceedingly quick brain, and only on those occasions could screams and shouts  be intuitied or even possibly heard by neighbors– evilly scary occasions. Rarely did the facade of calm break in public or in any place that could be considered not private.  She broke glasses, plates, and our hearts.  My brother grew up resenting her, resenting our father, and simply resenting the lack of “guidance” in life that most kids from “normal” families have and can count on daily.  I was –only two and hald years older –the one who roused him for the school bus some mornings when our mom could not.  I was the one who ended up driving him to school after we abandoned her dark, moody,  70’s custom built, lake view home to the cheery  yet mildly decripid rental slump of our father’s  tiny remodeled 50’s downtown home. I remember my little brother’s smelly socks, my inadequate laundrying  and absent coooking abilities, and the puppy that Dad had bought us to ease the pain of our mother’s rejection.  I ran away from her, and David got kicked out of Mom’s prestine presence. The new tiny cocker spaniel puppy peed all over the floor, carpet, our feet whenever we petted her.   She was a sad puppy, starved for proper attention, as we were as teens. We were starved for attention, but we had food. We had clothing. We had a car for transport.  Dad kept the house neat as possible, but frankly, the home  was trashed by two teens who had never learned the art of housekeeping, laundry, or even proper showers from their mom.

So I mourn my mom, to this day. I don’t mourn growing up and getting out of the chaos of my childhood. I don’t mourn the mistake of my first 25 year marriage to the young man whom I thought of more as a friend than a lover, and I don’t mourn the fact he cheated on me for years as an answer to the loopsided love.  I don’t mourn  the joy of rasing my own children without my mom.  I don’t mourn –now–my own divorce.  I mourn the loss of my mom’s potential. I was only 27 when she passed.  I feel like the loss of her thwarted my potential in many ways, for many years.  Moms are supposed to grow old with their daughters and sons.  Moms are supposed to become worrisome, burdensome, old, fragile, frail, and funny.  Moms are supposed to see grandchildren and great grandchildren appear. Moms are to be the angels on earth for 90 plus years if possible.  To my mom, I say, thank  you for lasting as long as you could, and I remember your Chanel No.5 and your terry cloth robes, your laughter and your strong coffee. I am your daughter, and I know you would be proud.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Havelock Ellis

As I sit here in front of a course online that I don’t want to finish, as usual for me, I see the television over my computer screen playing reruns of the show “Criminal Minds” while my dog and kitten sleep, sonorously breathing in the background. I have found in life that my path is often one that is taken alone. There seems to be friendships, partners, lovers, and my beloved husband with me at times, but the path I am on, my journey, is one of solitude and self reflection.

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”   Havelock Ellis

 

I have held on a long time to slipping back into the comfort of my lack of  self-worth, self-esteem, confidence, whatever name one would wish to call this black hole I allow inside me to grow slowly then slowly ebb away on an off for the past half century.  I do remember a time as a toddler where I knew I was connected to God or Creator.  I knew in my bones, my cells, my tiny fine hairs on my head and arms that I was an electrical current full of Light. That feeling of connection and light has visited me again  in the past eight years, on and off–and that current flowed through me when I was a young mother. The Black Hole has also visited me.  Why?  How can I be filled with such light and feeling of connectedness at one moment and then be overpowered with the Black Hole in the next moment? My counselors have told me what a strong personal journey I have experienced as a woman, and how strong I am at the core.  I know this. I survived my mother’s suicide. I have seen my beloved father die.  I witnessed my beloved mother-in-law struggle for her life with cancer and die in the arms of her family, and I saw my first cousin, a man of strength and pure love and artistry in his soul, die before my eyes, another victim of cancer.  I am not unfamiliar with the “longing” to pass.  I am not unfamiliar with the journey in spirit we all make in this life. I now turn full circle in my life, back to partnership, trust, compassionate co-existence, love.

Perhaps what I long for, right now, is the answer we all search for all of our lives.  Is the pain of loss, and the joy of love, always so interconnected?  Is letting go and holding on the same action in some spaces we hold for ourselves?  Is the purpose of my visits from the Black Hole in my youth’s soul, a survivor of rape, a survivor of abuse, there to reinforce my Light, my electrical connection to Source, God, Creator?  I had an aquaintaince friend of mine doubt very strongly that I could practice effectively “A Course In Miracles” alone.  I smiled. I told him that I had started the “course” with a friend in ’94, and had carried on with the coursework after she had moved on to Colorado.  I am there.  Back in a flash to those years as a stay at home mom, two little girls, cats, guiena pigs, toast and scrambled eggs in the morning hours, a husband rarely home on time, and the knowledge that I was the surest source of love for my girls and myself. I missed Elaine when she left, and I tried to substitute her frienship with another mom who did not have the same background or interests, but I pursued my course, my choice for love, my holy instants.

We all make the choice to join others in our search, or simply journey alone.  I feel that all paths link, cross each other’s paths, and run parallel  to one antoher at times, but we all journey here alone until we connect ouselves to Source, Creator, God.

Today –after another night alone in my mountain home–I turn off the insipid televison reruns of “Criminal Minds” and  just pause, just sit to listen to the silence of the house, waiting for my beloved Kevin to return to me next week.  I wait and listen for the annunciation of my Light each day, and it arrives.  God slips in my front door  gently and silently as always as I stare into the green foliage and hear the singing of the birds.  My kitten purrs. My mind clears. The pain of my body, slowly fades to the backgournd, and becomes a connection agian to love. The computer coursework awaits, patiently, as I take in with  a slow inhale that Light, that perfection of Life,  that Source,  that being one with all of my past, all of my present, and smiling expectantly toward my furture. I lean forward, and I smile.

Yes, the black hole slips out of sight.  Light has arrived, and stays.  It is a journey I make with the conscious choice to love.  Love.  Letting go and holding on, to Love.