Friday, May 16, 2014

A Mom, or a Mother?

Five months ago, it was a Monday afternoon.

Five months ago, I was stressed. I was preoccupied with multiple major projects at work. I was maybe getting a little shrill with my colleagues. I was struggling to get shit done before I flew out to Florida for the holidays, to visit my sick mother.

Five months ago, I paused in my busy workday to send my eldest sister a text, grousing about all of this…and then another text, grousing that our mother was even then calling me.

Five months ago, my middle sister called me, and I learned that it hadn’t been my mother calling me. It was my mother’s neighbor, calling to tell me Mom had died.

We’ve gone through our first Christmas without her, and our first New Years. We have gone through her birthday. My sisters have gone through their first birthdays without her. Most recently, we went through our first Mothers Day without her. That was a weird one, Mothers Day. I’ve always been a little oblivious to the hype of holidays like this one. But I’m not that oblivious.

I came across an article on CNN last week: “A Mothers Day…Whenmother is Gone”. I started reading it, but stopped about halfway through. All of the sentiments within were good and accurate ,they just didn't apply to me. Because halfway through the article it occurred to me: I don’t recognize the mothers that this woman is talking about. This hasn't got a thing to do with me.

Five months ago, the woman who gave birth to me passed away. Since then, I have cried. I have missed her from time to time. I have visited her childhood home, and spoken to people who had known her for years. I tried to understand who she was as a child, a young woman…and then I realized I was focusing so much trying to know who she was before I was born because…well, I couldn’t understand the woman she was after I came around. I turned deeper into her past to try to understand and know how we came to be here, now.

I tried to feel deeply grief-stricken, and failed.

Five months have passed, and I have accepted that I don’t mourn my mother. I mourn the mother that I never had, or else the one that I stopped having when I was ten. I mourn the loss of Elaine. But I don’t mourn the loss of my mom.