The day she left for good

Some days I wear heavy like a scratchy wool blanket, folded in half and draped across my shoulders.

35 years ago today, my Mom died from cancer at age 55. It never gets any easier, only different.

Some years it’s the anguish of being left so soon; other years, the anger that she was so young and why does everyone else get to have a mother for such a long time; all of the milestones of graduation, marriage, achievements that I never got to share; the absolute wrongness of me having to deal with bedpans and hospital visits when I was a young teenager; questions about who she was and who I am left unanswered; the not getting to see her grow into the fullness of her life; nor for her to see who I have become . . . . .

This year it’s about the lost time together. Last night I dreamt that she and I were on a quiz team in a pew at the back of a church. We didn’t win. When we left the church, we each made our way through a concourse of restaurants and shops. We met again at the exit. To try to explain why I haven’t spent time with her for so long, I shyly said ‘I thought you’d died’ and decided to ask if she’d like to watch Napoleon Dynamite with me.

I awoke hopeful that this dream I’ve had any number of times, that I’d made a mistake and she is still here, was true this time. But it wasn’t.

So I spent the day, warm and slow and quiet, reflecting on the empty places and the full spaces that make up my relationship with my mom.

35 years


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