Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 15th

Every year for the past 13 years, I write a letter to my mother around January 15th, the anniversary of her death. At different points in my life they have swung wildly from pain filled, to anger filled, to joyful, to smug, and to hopeful. But I've always had something to say.

Until this year. This year, I sat down to write the letter, and no words came. Nothing. It was as if a terrific blankness replaced everything I would have let go. There is nothing to say anymore. The words have gone dry.

Forgiveness has finally settled in my heart.

God can be the only author of such an ordinary miracle.

So instead, I will tell you about my mother. She was beautiful. She was cruel. She was very very sick, and she wounded me in ways that even if I told you, you would not believe. They defy the laws of nature, the common principle of all mothers- do not injure your young. She could not see past her sickness beyond herself. She was terribly selfish to me, her child...but could be tender and kind to animals. She could grow anything- any plant, any food, any tree or flower. She was a source of such pain and chaos in my life that for the whole of it, I have lived with her shadow. I look at my body and see the scars she gave me. I close my eyes and have flashbacks. I spent countless tears and countless hours wishing for different.

But anything in me that lit the fire of anger or rage at her has been lifted away. I have memories, and I have sadness, yes. I am sad that I do not have a mother that will ever hold my babies. I don't have a mother who has my best interests at heart. I don't have a mother that will stand between me and anybody or anything else. I have adequate replacements, yes. I have women who have stepped in and taken over. But can it ever be the same- no. Of course it can't.

I have come to realize something profound about forgiveness. It does not mean that you forget. It doesn't mean that it doesn't make you angry or sad anymore. It doesn't mean that you aren't haunted. It means that you choose to close the chapter for YOURSELF. You will still think of the hurt and injury, always, that is human nature. But it's ability to hold sway over you diminishes when you lay forgivness over it. It's a balm of healing.

So here I am. I am further into the course of my life than my mother ever made it. I am healthy. I am strong emotionally. I am not battered by my own psyche. I have terrific relationships I don't try to wound my way out of. I have a child I will never injure, and another on the way I will treasure. I am content. I am at peace with myself and the course of my life.

I cannot say that I love my mother. I can't say that I miss her. But I can say that I am finally at a place where the actions of her life no longer haunt mine. I hope that wherever she rests tonight, she feels peace and God's love. And I also hope, one day, that I will see her again. I have faith that she will be fully healed of her demons and I will be able to look into the eyes of the mother she could have been. In heaven, I will have her fully. Until then, I will allow God to come like the tide and fill the voids she left behind.

Be at peace, Mom. I finally am.