My new therapist wants me to open the mystery door about my mother’s death because apparently I’m not depressed enough for her. Ha! It’s been a little over a year and a half and I still haven’t come to terms with how I feel about my mother’s death except I’m happy she’s no longer suffering in this cruel world.
Sometimes I go to the river by the busy highway and speak to her directly or through the universe. I light candles for her in her honor every few months. My partner and I get her blue flowers also as tribute. At times, I believe, one reason why I cemented my journey and involvement with ballet-inspired workouts is because I remembered in her childhood she wanted to be a Ballerina, so I honor her by learning and performing ballet. Last, but not least, I hung her last painting high up on the wall of a bridge over water over a plush purple night that looks a lot like the bridge I eerily live close to nowadays.
And I’m not sure if because death came and went, or because of my denial, but it’s pretty weird how the older I get and the more I stare in the mirror, the more I realize how much I look like my mother’s daughter. I guess everyone saw it before me. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough before. Who knows?
The truth is I haven’t been able to sit down and stare longer than five seconds on any of my mother’s photos. I’ve seen a lot of her different dimensions at different times and the longer I stare at a photo, the more all those dimensions pop out and the more I may have to relive memories that leave me open and scarred.
The longer I stare, the quicker my eyes start to flood and the quicker I start to counter and strain to contain the waterworks. I’m not a sappy person. I don’t forget my cruel childhood, but death has a weird way of sitting you down and making you think about your mortality and everybody else’s even if you don’t want to sit down and think about it. And even though I can be heavily into death itself and metaphysics and pits of darkness, it seems at the age of thirty-four death seems realer than ever.
Death has also made me think more about how ending memories are probably the most important ones. This intrigued me because I’m all about beginnings, so for closing memories to leave a devastating mark haunts me. What’s worse is I didn’t even get to say goodbye while she was conscious. By the time I went to travel to the hospital to see her I was in a wheelchair with a very painful throbbing ankle in a heavy cast. It was hell for my foot to not be elevated, but I believe I was numb inside from my mother’s death. So much was taken from me in a matter of weeks from mobility and now her.
It was awful having the knowledge of how the doctors had to sedate her until she was finally gone because the pain in her intestines would be too much for her to handle. And that’s what hurts the most. I think about how hard her life has always been. I think about all the times I didn’t want to be happy in my own life because I felt guilty because she was always out there suffering with an incurable disease. My last memory of her alive was observing her writhing in massive pain. I knew in the way she talked, it was psychologically different from anything I’ve ever heard her say. In her words, in the way she spoke she was already gone.
It was hard to stomach mentally and it was harder to stomach visually how she could no longer go to the bathroom on her own and how the nurses were the ones bathing her in the room on her bed. But on the last day I saw her I caressed her hair. I remembered kissing her on her warm forehead telling her I’ll visit again very soon, but soon after I broke my ankle and I was already far far away from reaching her.
My mother was dying since I was nine years old. I became desensitized to every near death and actual near death experience she’s ever has, so when this became the day, it was as if life played a hardcore prank on me. It just seemed like every time she survived another one and another one and another one, but not this time.
Who knew that was going to be the last time I saw her talking or breathing? Who knew that would’ve been the last kiss I gave her on her warm forehead? I think some people have fantasies about how they want people to go before they die. I always thought I’d see her one last time with my brother in the hospital room and we would both take turns saying, “We forgive you for everything. We know you did the best you could. We’ll always love you.”
But nothing ever turns out the way you expect in life and that’s just how it is. So now I think about the other ending memories, the ones way before she went back into the hospital for a gazillion time. I think about how even though I didn’t have the best relationship with her throughout my life, she did branch into a second mother towards the ending of her life. She was a newer mother, better mature. During that process, I believe a big part of her learned to really appreciate me because I was there to the end unlike my brother who stopped showing up to the hospital and didn’t even come to see her at her own funeral.
I’m left with the ending memories like how I did visit her more often in the hospice. How I left the house with $50 bucks one day and took her to a street fair where I bought her food, had her play games until she won a stuffed animal and I went back home with a $1 in my pocket. At the time, for a moment I was upset, but I quickly thought about how she wasn’t going to be around forever – so this is something I’m supposed to do and it was something that came out of my heart anyway. Plus I wanted her to have a good time and not worry about death coming closer and closer.
I think about the ending memories and how I would take her out on pass for a few hours to enjoy new foods, to get her soda and cigarettes, to enjoy the sun and we would sit in the park and watch the hot guys play soccer. I think about how for a very long time before I even thought about taking her out and seeing her often, for a time I stopped seeing her altogether. I stopped seeing her for so long with the intention to make her suffer like she did me and when I came in the hospice room she hugged me tightly and cried so much. I was still pretty numb at the time. I’ve always been.
I never thought she felt like that about me – love. Or how my friend (who now is my current partner) passed me a cigarette behind her back while we walked to the pizza shop out on pass and she scolded him lovingly, “Are you getting my daughter into smoking now?” And that was the first time in a long time where I thought, “Hey, she must care about me.”