Almost two years ago, I wrote this post about losing my Mom as a young adult. It is the post which brings in the most searches. It is the post with the most comments. Every couple of months, a new person (or two, or three) will comment and say, “Me too.” Each time I am saddened, and humbled, and grateful to know that I know I’m not alone, and maybe my commenters do too.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom the last couple of days. The Steelers won on Sunday after all. A friend of my Mom’s has been in contact with me recently, and today posted a photo of her for me to see on Facebook. I just got done looking through about a dozen other photos that he sent me tonight via email. I said this in a note to him:
You know, I have so many photos of Mom–a whole album’s worth and then some, but I have looked at all of them so often, and studied them and memorized every little expression. It’s so nice to see photos of her that I haven’t seen, and see an expression I didn’t expect or have memorized. It makes me feel a little closer to her for just a second. Like she’s more than just a memory for that one little instant.
I miss my Mom. And again today I was wearied and exhausted by the truth that I will go on missing her this way for all the rest of my life. I have written here ad-nauseum about all the ways and reasons I miss her: her wisdom and advice, her presence in my life, and in my children’s lives, her humor, and on and on… I miss her. And that just isn’t going to stop. Some people would tell me that it should, but all I can tell them is that it won’t. That missing is a much a part of me now as the joy that washes over me each morning when my children greet the new day with radiant smiles and kisses for Mommy.
I still contend that the timing of my loss was unique…. was complicated. It’s always unique and complicated. But as 50+ people shared with me in the comments about losing a parent in early adulthood, it’s almost as though something developmental goes a little nutty. I am still feeling the ripples of losing her when I did. I was talking just today with a friend about how it seems that since dealing with losing Mom–her sickness, and death–I just don’t feel like I have it all together. Ever. I think part of that is my personality. Part of it is the scatter-brained nature of Mommy-brain. But I can’t help but wonder if part of it is this ripple effect that I’m still feeling from my Mom’s death. My relationship with time is a little off. My follow-through on communications and projects somehow gets left dangling over and over and over again.
Some might disagree with me, but I feel that I am in a place of acceptance in my grief. This is what it is. Life has moved on in many, many ways. I can’t go back. I know this.
But something about this shattering of how I anticipated my life to look for much further into adulthood… Something about the picture I had in my head 5 years ago of life as a mother with children, as life as a woman experiencing life… Something about what I anticipated to go on for longer as a daughter of this wonderful woman… Something about all of that keeps me off-balance. The loss and the subsequent derailing of so many of my previously unknown expectations leaves me floundering in ways that I can’t even quite express. They came at such a pivotal time. Just as everything was being built… Just as I was piecing together what my life was going to look like as ‘a grownup’… As I was putting together some pivotal pieces of the foundation of the rest of my life, one piece of the puzzle was thrown out… I just still feel off-balance, off-kilter.
But there is value in the tension. There is value in knowing that security should not come from my expectations of how life will look. My heart is different. My lense for looking at life is altered. I’m grateful to have come through the loss of my Mom. I’m grateful to keep going. I’m grateful that she gave me the strength to do so. I’m grateful that I know a bit more about the depth of hurt and loss in this life. I am grateful for the broken pieces of me that are gaining strength in their mending.
The ripples of my loss go on. They always will. I continue to find new ones–some silly, some ridiculous, some deep and painful still.
But I go on too. One foot in front of the other. Trying to make my Mom proud. Trying to be like her often, but also trying to find the ways I am not like her–to embrace, and accept those… and often, to be relieved in them. I guess in those ways, I’m just like any other daughter, huh? The ripples will continue, and I’ll continue wading through them. Maybe I will always be a little ‘off.’ Or maybe in facing down the deepness of loss, I’ll become a bit more whole.
The missing of her will go on. The ripples will go on. But most importantly, I will too.