Friday 21 September 2018

I Thought I Would Be OK, But I'm Not

My Mom passed away on August 16th at the age of 96. Ninety-six is a big number and a lot of years to live. When Mom reminisced about skiing down her street in Montreal as a child, I observed that her memory was 87 years old.

Of course I had imagined Mom dying. I thought I wouldn't feel sad - I thought I would smile and think, "well, she had a great run." And she did.

I wasn't expecting to be deeply shocked by the loss of her in my life. I wasn't expecting a strong sensation of being unmoored, adrift and alone. I wasn't expecting a lot of old demons about my childhood to rear their ugly heads. I thought I had put all these things to rest and I thought I had control of what my mother means and meant to me. I was wrong.

My mother was a person of extreme opposites. She was very funny and very loving. But she could be willful, impulsive and infuriating too. Now it's my job to reconcile those opposites and make peace with her, finally.

I said to a friend recently that I feel like my Mom, my Dad and the events of my life were like files in boxes, stacked neatly on shelves in my mind. When Mom died, all the boxes flew off the shelves, scattering papers everywhere on the floor. Now I must pick up all the papers, look at them again and put them away, perhaps in a different order. But those boxes must be re-stacked because one cannot live amidst chaos. I sure can't.

My sister Karen and I are both working on it. I'm feeling my own mortality and I'm realizing that my mother will always be alive in me. I have her genes, but I have her voice in my head, too. In a way, she'll never leave me.

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