Today I wrote about my mother. I sat down and I wrote down details I could remember. Extreme details. Details I’m so afraid of forgetting as the years add up to how many years it has been since that unapologetic cancer took her life.
At first, I stopped myself from writing. You’re always writing about her. I told myself.
It’s true. I find myself drowning in words I scribble down on a scratch piece of paper I find balled up at the bottom of my back-pack. But I can’t stop. And somehow that’s okay with me. I want to write about her. It’s all I have left of her.
I have poems, stories, and a random assortment of words that remind me of her.
My mother and I had a love/hate relationship. Ok. More like a love/dislike-at-the-moment relationship. Hate is a strong word. I never hated my mother. But there were times I wanted to literally pull her hair out.
I often get a surprised reaction from people when I share a story about the flaws of my mother. I think when our loved ones die we expect ourselves to keep only the good memories. But I’ve kept the bad ones, too.
I remember very vividly my mother was extremely angry, and that’s an understatement.
We were walking on a familiar path that usually brought us peace and time together, but today was different. Today she was tense. My sister and I could feel it. I remember constantly trying to keep up with my mother as she picked up her pace a little faster with each step. By the time we were halfway up the hill that sat above our apartments I was practically chasing her. I remember asking in a begging tone of voice for my mother to slow down.
I can’t even remember how old I was. Age doesn’t seem nearly as important as the memories do. Sometimes they help us chronologically organize things, but age is just a number.
Anyway, by this point my mother way at least twenty feet further than my sister and I. She suddenly swung around doing a 180 and looked directly at my sister and I.
She lifted her middle finger, and only her middle finger.
She flipped us off. I was horrified. Surely, me being the drama queen, must have made some kind of scene demanding she never do that again or threw a fit of some sort. I was in disbelief. But my mother just walked away. She went higher and higher up the hill and soon she was just a little dot.
I remember kind of just laughing a lot after that. After she was gone, I think I just smiled. I had never seen my mother so determined to make us feel bad. I guess I just couldn’t stop thinking how ridiculous it was.
My sister and I still remember that moment to this day. We laugh about it. Hard. It’s something that remains in us. At the moment that she lifted her finger I was in shock. But later I just shrugged it off. I think this part of my mother helped me see that she could be vulnerable, too. That she was imperfect. And it’s such an eye opening moment when you see someone like your parent, flawed. It also helped me see that we as human beings experience emotion. We have this awesome ability to absorb the world around us and react. And instead of choosing to sulk or rage over something that could easily create a grudge, I just let it fall away. I let it not be important to me. Sure, it’s memorable. But instead of festering hate between my mother and I, I put myself in her shoes and saw that maybe she’s extremely upset and needs space.
This was a lesson I was thankful to learn. I don’t think I learned it right then and there…but throughout life I’ve come across situations in which I could have escalated it, but chose to focus on the future. I prioritized what was most important, and it certainly wasn’t getting what I wanted for a short term time. It was taking a step back and seeing different angles. It’s was looking at the bigger picture and the long term effects.
Life isn’t just a 1 dimensional world. It’s full of light. It is full of darkness. It it full of colors and shades of gray.
With my mother, I saw all the times we shared together, and all the times we would share. And the bad thing just became a bad memory.
With every “bad” thing that happens in my life I grow to become thankful for it, because it helps define what “good” is.
Thanks for hearing me out.