Life can be serious business.

A Loss That Lent Itself to Life.

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Grief is such a peculiar emotion. It is ever present and takes many different forms and tones. Time doesn’t heal it, only changes it. It’s a wound that scabs but never scars. I lost my mother 18 years ago today. And now, I am pondering if that heart wrenching loss is what ultimate gave me life.

This anniversary creeps up on me every year and every year I experience it differently. This year I feel like I’m running from it. Twice today (so far) I’ve fought back tears. Instead of just letting the grief out, I pushed it to the side. A “not now” moment. As I was making lunch for my son, he decided it would be a good idea to climb on his little table so that he could stand on the four inch window sill. As I was telling him to “Get your crazy butt down, you’re going to get hurt!”, he fell. I dropped the peanut butter jar and ran to scoop him up.

As I sat holding my baby boy, he stopped crying pretty quickly but seemed to tighten his grip around my neck. He nuzzled his head in to that perfect nook between my head and shoulder and just hugged me. It’s like he knew. He knew I was the one that really needed to be held. He gave me permission to feel my own hurt and I couldn’t hold back the tears pooling in my eyes. He didn’t even budge as I squeezed him harder, cried and rocked to soothe us both.

Eighteen years ago I lost my mom to cancer but since birth, I never really had her. My grief is deeper than the physical loss of her body. It is a loss of her presence in my life. My grief is shaped around a hole that a constant maternal love never filled. Her name, Constance, is incredibly ironic for that reason. For reasons that I will never truly understand, my mother wasn’t able to fill the role of mom to me. Drugs, alcohol and mental illness all played a part in that, but I know there was more than just those at play. I know there was a hole in her own heart, I just don’t know why.

wpid-img_20150108_153948554.jpgI only know what I know and that is that out of three children my grandparents raised, one committed suicide, one stepped out on her family and even reality at times and the other is living a life so full of dysfunction no one wants him within a ten foot radius. I’m not mad at the grandparents I never knew or my mother. I can look at myself and my own siblings and understand the power of being born with resilience. She, unfortunately, just didn’t get that gene. My mom was a survivor, but never knew which fights were worth fighting for.

My grief has changed over the years. Reaching milestones like graduating highschool and college and getting married shaped it and caused me to miss her in many different ways. Nothing has molded my grief more than having children of my own. Becoming a motherless mom. Raising them, being present in their lives, understanding the importance of being a role model, planting empowering seeds and even letting them see me fall — all of these things trigger grief and love and heartache and hope. It all stems from the relationship, or lack thereof, with my own mother. The anniversary of my mother’s death brings all that to the front of my heart and mine. I was 15 when she died. No where near old enough to become her friend yet, but ready to finally get to know her. It was a place in time that it could have finally been possible, had fucking cancer not taken her away from me.

Time doesn’t make grief easier. It only changes it. Sometimes, it can even make it harder. Time offers growth. Growth forces you to look at the events that have played out in your life, and face the connections that they created.

The string of events, including Mom’s diagnosis of cancer played a part in my removal from a toxic, abusive situation. Her sickness, may have in fact, been my saving grace. It put her in a stable environment and gave my guardian an excuse to send me away, to Mom, after I disclosed her husband had been sexually abusing me for the past eight years. Off I went, to live with my mother for the first time since I was two years old. Thankfully, my sister (who is 12 years older than me) was a part of this plot. She was the rock in my mother’s life at that time and she soon became mine.

When Mom died, my sister was left to raise me. A lost and very damaged 15 year old girl. That end result, however sad and difficult as it was for both of us, set the foundation for the blessed life I have today. I sometimes wonder, in my mother death, was I given the chance to finally live? As I type that out loud, my stomach is twisting, my heart is racing and my mind is truly overwhelmed. It’s a thought I can’t bear to keep but can’t seem to erase.

Perhaps it is the craziest and most cruel thought I have ever had, but it is the only sense I can make of her death, and the cruel timing in which it happened. They say everything happens for a reason and I fucking hate that saying to be honest with you. Even so, I can’t help but feel that her death is connected to an act of love. The kind of love only a mother can have for her children. A love that I didn’t understand then, but do now.

Today, at 33 years old, I sit in silence and let my fingers work through my grief. It will continue to wear many faces today. I will continue to have moments of strength and moments of raw heartache. My grief, a scab that feels ripped open, that hurts and heals me, has once again transformed. I know it will continue to do so. As does my acceptance and understanding of this day, every year.

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Life can be serious business.

A Voice For The Motherless.

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for me. I want to cradle my babies and absorb the blessings that they are; however, I just as much would enjoy telling everyone to go piss off. I don’t have my Mom anymore, so please, keep the ooie gooey convo about how much you love and admire yours, to a low whisper. Please don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate Mothers. I don’t think we do it enough. But this particular holiday, the one where you celebrate your own Mother…it’s tough.

It’s not memories of past Mother’s days that make me tear up. I don’t have any to remember. It wasn’t until I was 14, that my Mom was stable enough to take care of me. I’ve written before about how saddening it is that when my Mother’s mental stability and addictive demons were finally in a safe place, her body rejected life, and she died from cancer. I was just shy of 16.

Not having a Mother around to celebrate is only half the battle for me this year. What’s just as difficult is coming to terms with what kind of Mother she was. I recently asked an older cousin if she had any memories of my Mom. Her response brought this struggle to the surface again. She said a few, but they weren’t anything I would really want to know. I didn’t push it. I didn’t want to. I know the memories would hurt me and only enforce my inability to sugar coat or glorify who my Mom was.

What’s so tough about her not being here now though, is not being able to ever learn my Mother’s story. I never got to hear her side of things. What it was like being her. I never knew her parents either. Both of them died before I ever got to know them. What effect did her parent’s have on her? What did it mean to her to lose her brother to suicide? What was it like to have your first baby at 15?  Was it the chicken or the egg – did the drugs & alcohol come before the bipolar disorder or after? Where were you, when you weren’t around? Did you want to take care of us and couldn’t, or are you just built differently than me – without a maternal heart.

It’s odd to me that as I think about these questions, I’m not angry. I’ve never been angry at my Mother. When she did pop in for a few years, months, weeks or even days, I was the happiest. It feels strange because it feels like I should be angry at her. She made choices that negatively affected all four of her children and I don’t even know of the damage outside of that. Perhaps I’ve channeled that anger somewhere or at someone else. I don’t know.

Leading up to Mother’s Day is always harder on me than the actual day. My eyes and ears pick up on every thing  – the sappy commercials, the questions about plans and of course, the awkward bump in conversation, when the other person realizes, he is talking to someone that no longer has a Mother to buy flowers for. The overload forces me to think about my Mom and in a sense, mourn her. I mourn her loss, her absence in mine and my children’s life but mostly, I mourn her life. It was cut short at such a tragically ironic time. A life’s big fuck you.

My husband has done a good job of creating a tradition on Mother’s Day, where we go for a nice hike and buy flowers for the garden we planted in honor of my Mom. That always makes the day bearable and actually enjoyable.

So to Motherless Momma’s and Motherless daughters and sons everywhere, don’t feel guilty if you would rather sleep through the day, or even the week before Mother’s Day. You’re not alone. Throw the blanket over your head and go have yourself an ugly cry. And then gather up your babies and celebrate, if you feel like it.

I’ll always raise a glass to my Momma. She gave me life. She gave me qualities that make me a pretty awesome human being. She did the best she could. I’ll always love and cherish her, on Mother’s Day and everyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life can be serious business.

Motherless Mom.

I tend to express more grief on the day my
mother was born than the day that she died.  A little
baby girl entered the world as innocent as my own,  and then
endured four lifetimes worth of struggle in 46 short years. 
That’s a tough pill for me to swallow.  Even harder because
I am her baby girl.  Having said that,
today marks the eve of her death 17 years ago and I am missing her
terribly.  It’s always the days leading up to anniversaries
and holidays that are the hardest for me.  In honor of her,
myself and other Motherless Moms, I wanted
to share this post I wrote early on.  I tried
to capture the essence of losing her and what it means to me at
this point in my life. 6455_1190790687614_1163766376_30564651_1135391_n For me, it’s hard to find
the words to convey what it is like to be a Motherless
daughter.  It means something different at every stage in my
life.  Hope Edelman wrote in her book “Motherless
Daughters”
about wanting to shout
to everyone that her mom died
because it sums up so much of who she is.  I get
that. The only thing that has impacted me greater than losing
my Mom at the age of 15 has been becoming a Mom myself. Not all of
thsadness comes from not having that
person who you know above all would answer your call or would
have a piece of advice whether or not you want it.  My
sadness has morphed in to comprehending the absence of time
needed to know your mom beyond being your Mom.  My
Mother was a beautiful kind of chaos.  A kind of chaos
that rears it’s fury all over my own thoughts, reactions and
emotions.   I know it’s there…I can feel the
connection.  I just wish I could
see it in her eyes these days. 
That my daughter could see the common
fragile thread that exists between me and the woman that
created me so that when she gets older, she’ll be able to not
only see but understand and embrace
the kind
of crazy
we share. My Mother’s battle with mental
illness and addictions prevented her version of mothering to be
found in any how-to book; however, I still crave to know what her
answers would have been to the questions I need to ask her about
how I am suppose to mother. 
It’s unsettling that no matter how dysfunctional
or even neglectful your Mother may be, you still
love her and want her in your life.  She is the first
piece of my story and it is the piece I know the least about
because of the point in my, and her ,life when I lost her. No
body goes to a school and learns the tricks of the trade on
parenting but most have that go-to professor she calls
Mom.  That’s the void that I live with in my heart. 
However, I have been blessed with women landing in my life for
reasons I am just now starting to really understand.  Women
that if were asked to gather in a small space, would form
a shape that fits perfectly inside the void in my heart left
when my Mom died.   These women have molded me by
offering divinely designed doses of lessons my Mom may or may not
have been able to teach me… had she had enough time. These
women, have taken many forms.  A sister that cared for me (and
still does) when there was no body left to do the job and
that understood that her sheer presence in my life was a
matter of tipping the scales towards history NOT repeating
itself.  A teacher who created lesson plans out of thin
air just so she could carry me under her wing for a little
while longer.  A co-worker and friend that gave me a
glimpse of what recovery could have looked like for my own Mother
and shared her many lessons learned along the way.  A coach
that hugged me and then told me to get up when I fell and try
harder.  A friend that no matter how dark or mundane it gets,
has the power to raise me up and keep me laughing.  A boss
that didn’t accept my judgments of people presenting weaker than me
and pointed my heart in the right direction to help instead of
judge.  A college professor that supported my quest to
identify a diagnosis that best suited my Mother’s actions and
personality.  Not one but two single Moms who
opened their doors to me when I rebelled the hardest and
needed love the most.  A soul sister’s Mother who embodied
what a Mother should look like and taught me the power of
prayer.  And a woman, my Mother’s,
brother’s daughter, who by no coincidence, I connected
with to ensure that I knew I was not alone. So Mom…I say
this to you with a broken but healing heart.  I
understand why you couldn’t be the one to parent and/or, in
the flesh, support me in parenting my own.  The only
beauty in your departure has been the grace in which these other
Moms have and continue to imprint my life.  I have grown
from a Mother-less daughter to a daughter or many Mothers.

Life can be serious business.

Motherless Mom.

6455_1190790687614_1163766376_30564651_1135391_n
For me, it’s hard to find the words to convey what it is like to be a Motherless daughter.  It means something different at every stage in my life.  Hope Edelman wrote in her book “Motherless Daughters” about wanting to shout to everyone that her mom died because it sums up so much of who she is.  I get that. The only thing that has impacted me greater than losing my Mom at the age of 15 has been becoming a Mom myself.

Not all of thsadness comes from not having that person who you know above all would answer your call or would have a piece of advice whether or not you want it.  My sadness has morphed in to comprehending the absence of time needed to know your mom beyond being your Mom.  My Mother was a beautiful kind of chaos.  A kind of chaos that rears it’s fury all over my own thoughts, reactions and emotions.   I know it’s there…I can feel the connection.  I just wish I could see it in her eyes these days.  That my daughter could see the common fragile thread that exists between me and the woman that created me so that when she gets older, she’ll be able to not only see but understand and embrace the kind of crazy we share.

My Mother’s battle with mental illness and addictions prevented her version of mothering to be found in any how-to book; however, I still crave to know what her answers would have been to the questions I need to ask her about how I am suppose to mother.  It’s unsettling that no matter how dysfunctional or even neglectful your Mother may be, you still love her and want her in your life.  She is the first piece of my story and it is the piece I know the least about because of the point in my, and her ,life when I lost her.

No body goes to a school and learns the tricks of the trade on parenting but most have that go-to professor she calls Mom.  That’s the void that I live with in my heart.  However, I have been blessed with women landing in my life for reasons I am just now starting to really understand.  Women that if were asked to gather in a small space, would form a shape that fits perfectly inside the void in my heart left when my Mom died.   These women have molded me by offering divinely designed doses of lessons my Mom may or may not have been able to teach me… had she had enough time.

These women, have taken many forms.  A sister that cared for me (and still does) when there was no body left to do the job and that understood that her sheer presence in my life was a matter of tipping the scales towards history NOT repeating itself.  A teacher who created lesson plans out of thin air just so she could carry me under her wing for a little while longer.  A co-worker and friend that gave me a glimpse of what recovery could have looked like for my own Mother and shared her many lessons learned along the way.  A coach that hugged me and then told me to get up when I fell and try harder.  A friend that no matter how dark or mundane it gets, has the power to raise me up and keep me laughing.  A boss that didn’t accept my judgments of people presenting weaker than me and pointed my heart in the right direction to help instead of judge.  A college professor that supported my quest to identify a diagnosis that best suited my Mother’s actions and personality.  Not one but two single Moms who opened their doors to me when I rebelled the hardest and needed love the most.  A soul sister’s Mother who embodied what a Mother should look like and taught me the power of prayer.  And a woman, my Mother’s, brother’s daughter, who by no coincidence, I connected with to ensure that I knew I was not alone.

So Mom…I say this to you with a broken but healing heart.  I understand why you couldn’t be the one to parent and/or, in the flesh, support me in parenting my own.  The only beauty in your departure has been the grace in which these other Moms have and continue to imprint my life.  I have grown from a Mother-less daughter to a daughter or many Mothers.