I miss my mom

I was laying with Lane tonight, trying to get her to fall asleep.  I was stroking her soft blond hair and singing her favorite Disney movie songs to try to lull her to sleep.  And as I lay there, I thought of my mom.

I thought about how she died, nearly ten years ago.  I thought about how she was only 47.  I thought about how, if I live as long as she did, that means I still have 15 more glorious years of life left, to play and cuddle and love and laugh and cry and squeeze every bit of joy out of every moment that I can.

I thought about what it would mean if I died when I am 47.  Lane will be 19, Jake would be 16.  I was 22 when my mom died, and I wasn’t nearly ready for it.  Of course, I had no warning.  She just died.  No real rhyme or reason, just slipped away quietly in the middle of the night.  And I wasn’t ready.  I wanted more time with her.  I needed more time with her.  I had only been an adult for a couple years at that point, really, and our adult relationship was really blossoming.  My brother was only 15 when she died, and I know he needed more time too, way more than I did.  Our dad sort of dropped the parenting ball after mom died, (not that he was great at carrying it before she died) and my brother was left to flounder.  In retrospect, I knew that would happen.  I knew it, but I wanted to believe it wouldn’t.  I wanted to believe my dad would rise to the challenge and be the parent that my brother needed through his formative years of high school.  But, it didn’t happen.  Part of my denial was self-serving — to admit my dad would shirk his parental duties would obligate me to move back home, to drop out of the graduate school program I’d just started when mom died, and make sure my brother became the man I knew he was capable of being.

Not to imply he’s turned out poorly.  Now, he’s 24, and he’s doing OK.  Career- and education-wise he’s a bit of a ship without a sail.  He knows he wants more for himself, but he’s not sure what and not sure how.  I feel like he harbors a lot of anger.  But he laughs a lot, and smiles a lot, and has healthy (from what I can tell) relationships with decent girls.  He has artistic pursuits that bring him contentment.  I love him to death and no matter what, I’m really proud of him.  But I think with better, stronger, and/or more present adult guidance after mom died, maybe he’d have his bachelor’s degree by now.  Maybe he wouldn’t ache inside quite so much.  Maybe he’d have more direction.  I don’t know.  I just want him to be happy, and I know for a long time he really wasn’t… and I probably could have helped make that happen but I was too involved in my own world, 300 miles away.

Anyway, that was a tangent I didn’t really mean to go on but I just feel like spouting some emotion for a bit, even if it’s a bit incoherent.

I guess it all comes back to that I feel like a lot of how I define myself sort of goes back to losing my mom when I was still pretty young.  I read a book a few years ago called Motherless Daughters which helped validate those feelings.  (If you have also lost your mom, especially early in life – through death or abandonment – this is an excellent read.  I can’t recommend it enough.)  I do wonder how much of who I am today would have been the same even if she were alive, and how much was shaped through the lack of her presence and the process of grief of losing her.  It’s a riddle I know I’ll never have the answer for… but it really doesn’t matter.  I am who I am (or, “I yam who I yam” if you’re a one-eyed sailor with a spinach affinity).

And I guess more than anything, I want more than the cards my mother was dealt.  I want to meet my grandchildren.  I want to live long enough to use my retirement savings.  I want to get old enough to have lots of wrinkles.  I want to celebrate all those metallic wedding anniversaries (my parents only made it to their 23rd).  But if I do go early like my mom did, I want to have been a good enough mother that Lane and Jake will miss me terribly.


10 responses to “I miss my mom

  1. A lovely, poignant post.

    As you know, your brother’s parenting wasn’t your responsibility. I have a feeling, though, that your support – even 300 miles away – had a great deal to do with the fact that he’s not on a dark and gloomy road, just one with a wee bit of fog.

    My Dad’s father died at 48, when my Dad was only three. As a result my father was extremely driven – he had so much he wanted to accomplish young, just in case. He changed a great deal when he passed that age.

    I wish you many years of loving and laughs and joy.

  2. What a thoughtful and poignant post.

  3. Thanks, ladies.

    BeThisWay, I do know that parenting my brother wasn’t my responsibility. But do you remember that kitten I found in the Home Depot parking lot a while back, that had been hit by a car? That kitten wasn’t my responsibility either, but I knew it was in trouble, and I strongly suspected nobody else would help it.

    My brother at 15 was a lot like that kitten. There were other people that could have helped him, other people that should have helped him, but no one really stepped up. Not my dad, not my grandparents. He was just a boy, and he’d lost his mother, his rock and someone he was really close with (despite his teenage affronts to try to disprove it). And I knew it, and saw it, and I know I did the best I could given the choices I made to stay with my studies, but I also know in retrospect it wouldn’t have been an awful sacrifice to get my grad degree in Buffalo vs. in Albany. I would have lost a year but would that have been awful? Not really.

    It is what it is, and I truly don’t feel guilty about not doing more, but I do feel regret, which is a subtle but significant difference. I think if I’d had to do it over again, I would choose to do it differently.

  4. We’re never ready to lose our mothers, but the younger you are, the harder it is…or so I surmise. I was 59 when I lost my mother two years ago. You know what else? She doesn’t even have to be a “good” mother to be missed.

  5. Wonderful touching post. Hugs

  6. A beautiful post. It makes me feel guilty for sometimes being annoyed at my mom…

  7. my mom had a huge stroke 5 years before she died in January 2000, she couldn’t say everything that she wanted to and she would get so frustrated at times but when it was quiet and we used to sit together watching TV or I would chatter on about stuff (usually rubbish) She would just look and say “Oh yes” and her eyes told me that she was still my mom. Still there in the same way as she was when I was 7 listening to The Hobbit on the radio with her or at 35 when we were walking arm in arm down the road and wondering if the funny clinic on the corner did face lifts.
    I miss her all the time but I can still hear her voice in my head and when I talk to my own children, especially now they are teenagers.
    When my son and I laugh together I can see how the line carries on and delight in the small funny things in life. She did not have much of a childhood herself as her mother left her when she was 3 to be brought up by a very strict unloving gran and an alcoholic dad but mom gave us the love she did not have herself. She took pleasure in the little things, the odd things, she gave me that to give to my children and it is when we laugh together that I hear her the loudest.

  8. That was beautiful.

  9. I lost my mom recently. Tomorrow morning at 6 am it will be two weeks exactly. I was with her in hospice throughout the dying process. While I am glad I was with her when she passed and I said things comforting to her which enabled her to pass without worry, I am still haunted by that moment.

    I miss her. I miss her so much it hurts. She was always someone I could turn to in life’s disappointments.

    My mom died at 76 after battling cancer for 17 years. She was a fighter.

    The pain is the same whether you lose your mother at 22 or at 41. A mother is irreplaceable. A mother is someone who you will cherish. A mother brought you into this world and loved you unconditionally.

    I hope I can feel her presence with me….someday.

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