Thursday, December 17, 2009

Both sides now

Dear Mom,

I am thinking of you today. I don't know why, really. Sometimes you come so fully into my mind I know you must be near. I look at our Christmas tree and just wonder where you are. Do you see me? Do you see the memories I am trying to create for Lily?

I am so much further into my life than your sickness ever let you get. Married, settled, 2 children, friends and family. Sometimes I still think of the bad times you and I had...but I also realize I don't give you enough credit for the good times.

Remember when you let me open all of my Christmas presents early? I had had a bad day at school, and was crying. You never could stand to see me cry over other people's cruelty. It would make you wince, wring your hands. So you pulled all of my gifts from under the tree and watched while I opened them. I remember looking up into the blind hope in your eyes. I knew you hoped it would make me feel better, because you didn't have the skills to help me.

You did try. I know you did. It gets overshadowed by all of the darkness... but I know you tried. You reached so far past yourself to try to love me. I wish I could have told you that before you died. I was 19 and had no foresight. I was angry and sad. I wish I had known the power of forgiveness.

But wishing doesn't change anything.

Do you see me? Do you watch as I rock Lily, or as I wash Samuel's clothes and fold them away? Do you see me laugh and cry? I wish I could just know that you know I have forgiven you. That you know that I understand you so much more now.

You were so ill. You tried all the wrong things to cure yourself. But there I was, needing all the time. And so the strength you should have used to help youself you poured into me. There must have been a great wrenching of your soul as you pushed away your demons and tried to care for me and love me. I am a mother now, mom. I understand so much more than I ever dreamed I would.

Nobody helped you, because you wouldn't let anyone near. It's so hard for me to think that a simple medication could have healed you, mom. It's even harder to know that you were diagnosed and got treatment while you were terminal with cancer. You saw life as it should be seen the last few months of your life. You wanted to live. You wanted to be a mother. But it was too late. There are no words for that kind of injustice.

I feel you now. I know you are near when sadness wells up in me. When it is one of those days that I can't escape it. You come and sit with me. I know you are here. And I know you are trying, as you always always did, to love me as you could.

You gave me a gift wrapped in a curse, mom. You gave me love trapped behind glass. It was as if your disease buried you alive over and over, and you dug your way out. For me. It never lasted long, but I remember the mother you tried to be. I remember the times I fell asleep on your chest. I remember when you came to me at night just to watch me sleep. I would wake to you, weeping over me. I know how full of pain and regret your heart was in those moments. How filled with sadness you were.

I wish I wish I wish....

So just know, wherever you are, that I know. I know you tried. I feel you come to me. There may be times I am still angry with you, but there are also times like these, when I wish for just one more minute to tell you all of this. Forgiveness is a beautiful tragic dance. It is even harder when you are dancing alone.

Today I am remembering a little girl, standing in the bathroom doorway watching her mommy fix her hair. I am remembering the smell of your perfume, and the way you would catch my eye in the mirror as you curled your hair. You pulled on your dress, and I caught my breath. You were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I remember the scent of you as you bent to hug me, to kiss me. I leaned in and smelled your neck. You pulled back and tenderly kissed my forehead. You looked into my eyes, and I saw my mama.

I remember who you were beneath it all. Thank you for showing me that person, so that I can carry her with me.