Eleven days ago, I lost my mom.
I wake up every morning knowing my mom is gone and that loss weighs about fifty pounds. I’d rather carry that weight around, though, than numb out, forget, and remember again in a very bad and painful surprise.
At some point I’ll be ready to write the story of our last day, our last 15 hours, but I don’t think so tonight. What I do want to write about is how fortunate I feel for having had her for almost 44 years. I realize now more than ever that I am who I am because of her, because of all the misunderstandings and because of the archetypal mother-daughter pushes and pulls that have been the common threads between the whole of our two lives.
There seems nothing else to do than accept her now. I still don’t understand many aspects of her personality, why she did certain things, but because I will never know why, I just say, well, that’s the way she was. And boy, was she.
This crazy-good sense of social responsibility and care of and for others? Mom, even though she had been a Republican, and the Reagan years were a might bit testy in our household. The vanity that looks back at me when I look in the mirror? Mom. The bad bones and iffy adrenals? Ya, mom too. My I-don’t-care-what-people-think-I’m going-to-do-what-I-think-is-right attitude? Definitely mom.
Mostly, though, I am strong because of her.
Mom and I had spent two weeks together traveling through Europe and Skandinavia in 1989, and when she got home, she cried to my dad that–so sad–I was just like him. And I am, in so many ways. I understand who he is, how his brain works, and how he gets through his days–that’s how much we are alike.
How one person can be so much like two people is beyond me. But it is true.
My brain has never worked so constantly, and in my human attempts to comprehend the loss of my mother, to understand the measure of her absence, I can’t make the numbers work. Each of my parents combined to form me (not to mention three other unique individuals), which sort of looks like 1+1=1. But when one of those whole numbers is gone, there is no solution; the balance is gone, an infinite loss.