September 2, 2013
September 2, 1985. A day that changed life as I knew it forever.
Yesterday I wrote about my experience of September 1, 1985~ leading up to my mother's death. You can read about that here if you missed it.
My life has changed again and again and again in these last 28 years.......when I became a mother myself I learned first hand how hard it was. I have not always done it right~ but I have done the best I can with what I have at the time......this is a lesson I learned from my mother.......this and SO many more.
This is the letter I write to my mother today~~~
I'm not sure how to start a letter to you~ but I'll just speak from my heart~ and we'll see where that takes me.
I want to tell you that I love you. I have always loved you and I always will. I believe that you loved all 4 of us.......I know that it must have been hard for you to express love for your son~ when he looked and acted so much like our father.....but if you could~ would you please let him know in some way that you did love him just the same. He is struggling mightily last I heard........I fear it won't be long until he is lost forever.
I still grieve for you.....and now your namesake~ my sister~ has joined you in the cosmos. Her life mirrored your own in so very many ways. It seemed as though she could never escape from that life.......in the end they say she was happy~ I hope this is true.
I am not as close to my baby sister as I would like to be~ it seems as though we live a world apart~~ and in many ways we always have.
I want to apologize for always being so hard on you. I know that you always believed in me. I know that you had huge dreams and plans for how my life would turn out. Although my life today barely resembles your life plan for me....... I hope that you are proud of the woman and mother I have become.
I never really understood *why* you did the things that you did......never fathomed *why* you made the choices that you did.......it is ironic that I would now use one of your favorite momisms to describe me: I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
When I became a mother~ the whole world changed ~ I promised myself that I would not end up like you. I promised my daughter that she would have a better childhood than both you and I did. I hope I lived up to those promises.......at least the one about the childhood.....as I age ~ I have learned that we share lots of qualities and I am no longer afraid of what that means.
A short 5 years after you died I looked around at my life~~~ and I was horrified to realize I had~ in fact~ mirrored some of the hardest parts of your life: I was uneducated, jobless, divorced, single mother, hated my ex husband and his new wife and I was involved in an abusive relationship with a man who resembles your last husband far too much for my comfort.
This was a terrifying realization on SO many levels......but it was also a turning point......it was also the point at which I decided to take some of your advice and pick myself up~ dust myself off~ and start again.
It was YOU and your words that I heard in my head when I enrolled in college. It was you and your sister who ALWAYS told me I could be whatever I wanted to be......and I believed you both. You used to compare me to that sister when you were feeling like I was getting a little too sassy or 'big for my britches'. At the time I always thought of that as a compliment~ in fact I still do. I had the opportunity recently to spend a good deal of time with your sister~ she said that she thinks I am "a beautiful combination" of you and grandma in looks and mannerisms........that made me cry~ tears of joy to be sure. I shared with her the story of the day of your death~ she has so much pain associated with that day and the events that followed. I told her that even though you were jealous of her and you thought she was somehow 'better' than you~ you loved her very much. I'm not sure she believes me......she too could use some reassurance of your love.
When I realize that the only grandchild of your own that you ever got to meet is also dead now~ it makes me very sad. I don't know *what* happens when we die~ but I *have* to believe that *something* does......THIS simply cannot BE all there is. If you are with your mother, Jason and Elaine please tell them how much their family loves them. I believe that you all died so very young because your pain here on earth was just too much to endure. Childish maybe~ but I believe it to be so.
I lost my own son not all that long ago~~ and I remember very distinctly grandma's words standing beside your casket. She said "a mother should NEVER have to bury her child" and now I know that lesson all too well.
I want you to know that I am happy. I have had the opportunity to see and do things that I once could only imagine. I have 4 beautiful and amazing living children. They are, in large part, the reason I am who I am. You are a great-grandmother now. Your great-grandson is absolutely beautiful~ blond hair, blue eyes, amazing smile~ he looks so very much like his mother and her father.
Thank you for teaching me *not* to make disparaging remarks to my children with regard to their father.
Thank you for teaching me that I did not have to remain in any relationship that is toxic~ no matter the nature of that relationship.
Thank you for teaching me that I had worth.
Thank you for telling me that I am beautiful.
Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you for helping to shape me into the mother and woman I am today.
Thank you for teaching me that children NEED responsibilities.
Thank you for teaching me that yelling and screaming at my children almost always does more damage than good.
Thank you for putting a woman in my life who has become like a mother to me and a grandmother to my children~ she will never take your place~ but she has loved me as if I am her own~ and she has 'mothered' me when I needed it the most.
Thank you for teaching me that I must stand on my own two feet.
Thank you for teaching me that the only person I can and should control is myself.
Thank you for teaching me that I should always be responsible for myself~ that my financial and emotional well being should *not* be controlled by ANYONE but me.
Thank you for mothering me and my siblings even when it was hard.
Thank you for loving us the only way you knew how.
I forgive you for the things I once hated you for. I forgive you for the shortfalls in your parenting.
Please forgive me for judging you. Please forgive me for being so hard on you. Please forgive me for thinking even for a moment that your life or choices were EASY.
Please know that no matter where I go....how far I travel in the world....how successful at anything I ever am.......I will *always* remember from where I came. I will always remember that you did your best. I will try to tell my children about the GOOD things you did~ and the funny things you would say~~~I will do my best to remember you in the best possible light as often as I can.
Though you are gone~ I still remember your smile, the way would laugh at your own jokes, the way you smelled when you hugged me and the image of you holding baby Jason for the first time.
I hope that you have found the peace you struggled for your whole life.
I hope that I make you proud.
I see you in my dreams~ you are young and pretty and happy~ those are some of my favorite dreams.
I love you with my whole heart.
Be well mom~ you more than deserve it.
Your second daughter