Tuesday, April 28, 2009

She would be 59

Its that time of the year again, when I remember my mother on her birthday. She would have been 59 today. It is a tough day in so many ways, very poignant with Tammy gone. I began my day with a call to my other sister who is her daughter, too, and we spoke of the love and pain and loss. Her death in September 2001 seems so long ago and yet, it seems just months ago, as raw and new in ways as Tammy's death a year ago. She was a difficult woman, my mother, a woman who pushed with one hand and pulled with the other. A closed person, she nevertheless exuded a compelling warmth and wisdom. She was available to others (but only so far) and she never allowed herself to need others. Her emphasis as a mother was teaching her children to be self-sufficient as early as possible. She loved, but it always felt remote, as though she loved from a distance so as not to get her fingers burned. What I knew of love and being a woman I absorbed from her, and it took many years to unlearn it. She died with silence between us, a major regret in my life. She had done unacceptable things to innocent people and I punished her by removing her from my life. At the time it seemed the right thing to do, but the silence carried on for years until it became an insurmountable wall. Knowing she was dying, I still refused to speak to her. I remind myself of this once a year because the lesson I learned about silence is one I should never forget: Never allow silence to stand between myself and someone I love, because I will regret the lost chance to tell them I love them one last time. I would celebrate her life, but the truth is, I never really knew her. I didn't even know that her favorite color was orange until after she died. Another year has passed. I can say with confidence that I have lived this one more fully than the last. And somehow, I think that is the best way I have of honoring her and celebrating her life--by living, truly living, mine.

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