“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.”

1 Apr

 This year, this April marks 19 years without my mother. With her, but not with her.

The dead never really die you see. They hang around us, clammy on our skin, infesting our hearts and minds and memories. Every step I take, every word I breathe-they are formed and guided by her.

I have been on this earth longer than I knew her. I cannot remember her voice, or her touch. I mourn and desire a ghost. I mourn a woman who knew me not, who I hid the more painful moments of my childhood from. I mourn a woman who sent me into hell.

And I miss her. I ache for her so. In that primal way, that most sacred need-the arms and the voice of a mother. I’ve dreamt of her-arms wrapped around me as I moaned and whimpered, in a delivery room, her hands guiding and helping, the red emergency lights blinking their obvious terror at the wrongness of it all. I ache for the woman I should be, I could have been, had she not left, had the cancer not ravaged her body so, stealing her breasts, her movement, her life.

It’s not a dagger point any longer this pain. It doesn’t twist inside me, it doesn’t shake the barley in the fields. It merely twitches now and then-a glance from my daughters, a moment that feels so familiar that my eyes well up for no reason. This pain gently strokes my heart, a reminder of the shrieking horror I’ve come through, the maelstrom I survived.

Of course, it could have been worse. I knew that then. The girl I knew who lost both of her parents within a year-that was worse. The kids raped, not just molested. That was worse. The blank eyes of the children who had two parents who just didn’t get them, didn’t love them. The daughter of divorced parents, who had a mother who broke her heart every 6 months.

Much, much worse.

 My mother loved me. My mother waited for me, took my into her arms and raised me as she could. My mother did not want to leave us, my father forcing the doctor to tell her the horrible terrible news that it was no use, and she could let go and die. My mother was not a lay down and die kind of woman, and I’d like to think that those instructions are what killed her, not a desire to leave me.

But isn’t that the wish of every bereaved child, parent, lover. That their love would be enough to sustain their dying? That we be ripe juicy fruit, plums, peaches, mangoes, waters dripping into dry mouths. That we could give them strength.

There are many things I resent my mother for, many things I am still angry. Her leaving. Being unable to tell her when her favorite neighbour was doing horrible things to her daughter. Never feeling good enough for her, girly enough, perfect, careful enough.

But I loved her. And I still do. And I miss her terribly every single day-no matter how old I get, I wish her for strength and grace near me, I wish for her courage.

I wish for her.


14 Responses to ““The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.””

  1. Mad Hatter April 1, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    Ah, Thor. I don’t know what to say and all I want to do is respond as a mother might with a big, warm, comforting hug. You can’t do that with words, though…

  2. Hannah April 1, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    Oh, I’m at a loss. Your sadness… I’m so sorry.

  3. Mrs. Chicken April 1, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    In my own way, I know. I wish that, too. Peace to you, Thor.

  4. kate April 1, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Wow. This post is powerful and achingly sad; you have such a beautiful gift for writing your deepest feelings. I hope it brings you comfort.

    I remember when I reached the strange milestone of having been without a father for longer than I had him. And it’s especially complicated when, like you, I have so many conflicted memories of him. There are so many things I’d like to ask and say that will, of course, go unsaid.

    You’re not alone, sweetie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.


  5. LifeAsIKnowIt April 1, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    Wow. What a powerful post.
    Wishing you peace.

  6. Kelly April 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    We’re thinking about loss over in our house too. I’m so sorry for yours.

  7. nursemyra April 1, 2008 at 4:52 pm #

    dear thordora, sending you a big hug xxx

  8. sweetsalty kate April 1, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    lovely, profound, melancholy.. beautiful.

  9. Bon April 1, 2008 at 8:58 pm #

    ah, Thor…this post made me ache, for your ache, for that ache to hear someone’s voice again, to desire the comfort of a ghost.

    it is nineteen years late, but still equally important to say, because the fact of loss doesn’t go away – i am so very sorry that your mother died, that she had to leave you. i am sorry for the little girl you were, but my sorry extends to you now, too…for all the times you have had to take on womanhood without a mother for guidance, for reassurance.

    love and hugs.

  10. Jenny, Bloggess April 1, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    Oh Thor. This was beautiful and terrible all wrapped into one.

    You’re very wise. I’m just sorry you had to go through all of this tragedy to gain this wisdom.

  11. jen April 2, 2008 at 12:47 am #

    oh sister. the ache. now we can ache with you.

  12. Missy April 2, 2008 at 12:35 pm #

    Very beautifully written.

  13. thordora April 2, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    thank you all.

    I miss her so very much, and yet I’m still so mad at her, at everything that made it so I barely knew her….Sometimes I look at my fat frumpy frame and I hate it-because hers betrayed her, and I. And I don’t know how to be a girl, a woman, I don’t know how to set a path out for my children, and I grow angry again.

    But I know, if there was hope, she would have stayed. I know she loved me.

    And that is really all I do need to know.

  14. Candy April 2, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Although I had a different relationship with my mother than you did with yours, I feel every word. I long for her sometimes…most times. I long to call her up and here her voice, feel her arms around me, have her love my children. I feel cheated sometimes…most times.

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