Sunday, May 12, 2013

Your baby I'll be

They say that time heals all wounds. That in a matter of days, weeks or months, the trials of the past will wither away until they no longer taunt us, no longer make us reminisce sadly. Instead, we can focus on the good, the positive going forward and the happy memories.

It's been five years since my mother passed away and for the most part, time has healed my wound.

I still think about her every day. In so many ways, she still affects my decisions. Where others might say "What would Jesus do?" I ask myself what my mom would do, or what she'd want me to do. It doesn't always steer me away from making idiotic choices, but it certainly makes me consider how I act with a wisdom that I, unfortunately, will never be able to access again now that she's gone.

Still, I think there's something about being my mother's daughter that is intricately woven into the fabric of my being. If you were to take it out, then I'd cease to be me. Because in our short-lived time together (which will soon be vastly less than the full number of years I'll live on past her existence), she gave me so many standards to live by, so much knowledge of the world, so many things to go on and cherish, to pass on to others.

Last Mother's Day (in 2012), I wrote a list of all the things I learned from my mother. From treasuring the little things in life to living for the present, she gave me certain standards to live by so that I would grow up to become a well-adjusted teenager and (now) an adult.

To think that she never really got to see me live my full teenaged years, to watch me go to college or see me turn 20, is a crazy thought. Yet, throughout the entire experience of my life, I felt she's been there. A spirit, hovering over me, looking out for my every step and occasionally letting me mess up so I can learn a lesson or two.

But even though she's still in my heart every day of my life, the loss of someone so important is impossible to completely relieve yourself of. And this is where the "time heals all wounds" quote falters.

A few years ago, I was visiting my grandparents in Florida when they found a bunch of old video tapes that my dad had sent over with images of me as a toddler running around like a crazy person. We proceeded to watch the family movies and reminisce about good times.

Then we came upon a clip of my infancy. My mom didn't show up on camera, yet we could hear her voice speaking from behind it. And I started to sob. This was a few years after her passing, when the sting was no longer as fresh. However, in that instant, it all came back to me.

Because the feeling of losing someone is two-fold, really. And this is why it's impossible to completely heal the wound of loss.

The first thing that you lose is, of course, the person herself. You no longer have the opportunity to see that person, to interact with them, to have them love you back the way you love them. Figuratively, yes. But not in reality. There's no way to call up the deceased and create new experiences with them.

Losing those aspects is terrible, haunting, even destructive at times. But eventually we all grow. We find other people to distract us, to spend our time with, to speak our minds with, to exchange affectionate words with. It doesn't quite fill the void, but it softens the blow.

The second part, however, is what continues to bother me to this day. The fact is, I will never get to have a future with my mother. And worse than the loss of what's past (what was and now isn't), is what could have been.

Sometimes I picture her visiting me at college or coming to my graduation. I imagine her meeting my boyfriends or giving me advice on subjects we never got to talk about because by the time I lost her I was still very young and immature. I imagine getting to repair the damage I inflicted on our relationship, taking back those years when I neglected her and didn't treat her the way a daughter ought to treat a mother.

But the thing that doesn't heal is that nagging feeling that those dreams, those ideals, cannot and will not come true.

It kills me. And it's a wound that I haven't yet found a fix for.

On a day like today, I try my best to focus on the good times. To remember all that my mom gave to me. To forgive myself for my mistakes and to enjoy the fact that I got to know her as well as I did in as little time as I had to do so. By the time I was 11, I knew most of her back story. I'd talked to her about a lot of pressing subjects. I understood her morals, her hopes, her aspirations, her dreams for herself and for me. And that well of information has never run dry, never felt deplete. I am always remembering the wisdom she gave me at such a young age.

Then of course, I remember that as much as I did learn about her, there are infinitesimal amounts of information that I didn't get to find out. And those lost conversations, trapped in the netherworld of space and time, are what gnaw at my soul.

That being said, today is not a day for personal wallowing. It is a celebration. And though I've been feeling lonely in my losses, I am glad. I am glad that I had my mother. I am glad that she taught me well. I am glad that she gave me opportunities. I am glad that she was mine.

Because one thing that will never change, will never go away, is that we belong to each other in life and in death.

When I was young my mom used to read me the story I'll Love You Forever, I'll Like You For Always. It's a heart-wrenching book, the kind you don't really consider the significance of until you're much older. But today I remembered it and I am appreciative of the message it unconsciously translated to me at a young age.

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living your baby I'll be.

Thank you, Mommy. Happy Mother's Day.

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