Dear Mother

13 Apr

They’re beautiful.

I see your ghost in them, your poised hands behind their heads, guiding. I see your steel in them, your voice, the eager trill of your bravery. Rosalyn picks her clothes with care as you did, Vivian carries your devil may care, skillfully harnessed behind motherhood and cancer, but there nonetheless like a whisper in your hair. I saw it then. I see it now, in her bones.

You miss them. I know that. In that bed, through those last days in the blue room by the front door, your futures melted into mist, dervishes in the sunlight that sighed through the window seat your love built for me. What’s it like when tomorrow slips from your fingers, buttered by grief? Did you know their names then, their voices? Did they hum for you long before they ever did for me?

I fucking miss you.

I shouldn’t. I should be grateful Dad convinced you to let go, that you were released before..before I was more aware, before the pain would have hurt me too, before you became less my mother and more that creature in the bed. That thing you became more each day, the cancer, the sick, the broken. The un-soothed.

But dammit I miss you. I miss you as a mother, someone to tell me to stop coddling Rosalyn’s lazy habits or to make both girls pick up their rooms. I miss you as a mother who would nod sagely when I complain about there never being enough time, and how they grow to fast and soon, they won’t even live here anymore and will have lovers I don’t agree with and opinions I cannot change.

I miss you as a woman too, a woman I have never had in my life, never allowed in. Someone who would have explained bras and periods and lust, someone who would have tossed me Midol and said “suck it up princess”. Someone who would have understood daughters, through the eyes of one. I am missing a wheel, skipping a generation. I have lost the middle part to the manual and am alone in figuring out what goes where and what to do with backtalk and deliberation.

I cannot parse this without you it seems and some days, I miss you so fierce I break into tears near Starbucks and swear I can smell your perfume.

You would be so fucking proud of me, of all of us. You would love them wouldn’t you. You do love them. You love them through me, because of me.

Mother, I miss you. I miss what we don’t have, I miss that I stay up late and wonder for you, try to figure out who I’d be if you were here and there was no need for a burning heart with your name on my shoulder. There are two of me out here, the me before, and the me I am. It’s curious to think you’re responsible for both, and we all sit wearily together somewhere, drinking milky tea as we buff our nails.

You would be 65 this year. You would be retiring, planning your advance, singing in the bathroom, cooking poppy-seed cake for the neighbors who just married. You would see love as I see it in your eyes on your wedding day. Pure, to be savored. Joyous.

Do you miss us too? Do we fill you with joy, somewhere, somehow?

I am now as you once were, a young mother, youngish I suppose, still green around the gills but hopeful, a dancer in particles, a movement in time, hands together, the dusty light of a living room at sunset. I don’t have your gravitas, or your faith, but I like to think I have your strength and your honor, and perhaps just a little of your grace.

I miss you like I miss the pieces of me which left that day, 22 years back, in a cold catholic room in an old Ontario town.

Dear Mother.

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8 Responses to “Dear Mother”

  1. Bon April 14, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    that time of year, indeed. missing is such a fascinating kind of absence. yesterday was six years since i was airlifted to the IWK, with Finn. today is 11 years since the grandmother who raised me died. i try to feel them. i miss them. i wish for them and want them and feel the hole of them and yet…all there is is me, to try to enact whatever it was they left me with.

    your mom was not much older than i am when she died. your tribute to her? is beautiful.

  2. Deer Baby April 14, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    A comment never seems enough but this was beautiful.

  3. magpie April 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Oh sweetie. Beautiful. Sad. True.

  4. Marcy April 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    I’m sorry; and I love to see how the connection lives, how you’ve given it its own life and form.

  5. patricemj April 15, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    thank you for sharing your longing, you are not alone in it, you are not, though the longing is such a solitary thing. Best.

  6. Meaghan April 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    That was beautiful.. My heart hurts just thinking about losing my mom.

  7. hodgepodge April 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Oh, this is so beautiful and sad. For my part I think she is with you and your girls.

  8. Lilly April 29, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Am sorry your pain is still so great. I am not sure if it will ever lessen. Just keeping you in my thoughts and prayers…

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