Stuck in the middle
It still pissess me off that she’s dead. The more time that goes by the less likely I feel that I will ever be at “peace” with it. I don’t even know what the hell that’s supposed to mean but I hear it in TV commercials and read it in cheesy books so it must be something other people elevate themselves to. I like peace and all but what I think they mean is that maybe one day you can just not think about it all the time and when you aren’t thinking about it directly you are also not sad all the time subconsciously.
Yesterday was the anniversary of my mother’s death and tomorrow is the anniversary of my grandmothers death. Or its the other way around. I can’t keep it straight and I envision myself in older age actually going to their gravesites to confirm the date-bending creakily down to peer at the stones and writing it down in pencil on some random piece of paper I will most likely loose or my great-grandchildren will find in a box of crap and toss it wondering what those dates could have meant.
For some reason I don’t feel more sad on the day she died. I don’t miss her more or think about her more on the anniversary of her death because that day was so ugly and my mother was not ugly. On that warm December day, when I rushed as fast as I could from 500 miles away on the Cape to her bedside to watch all of her bodily fluids leak out of her skin, her face and arms bloat with fluid, her scared eyes behind the giant intubation tube, the tears that flowed down her face and mine as I kissed her smelling like medicine and urine. Watching helplessly as timed ticked away and knowing that it was just a matter of time before she was dead, gone, forever. Whatever moments I had with her had passed and this was the last moment I would ever have with her living-sort of. Like in that poem by WH Auden ” Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. ”
There was a definite ending to what my mother’s life had become. She was there and then hocus pocus she was not. There was a gradual letting go, slipping away and turning her back on me that she needed I am sure to really be able to let go. She knew she was going to die. Maybe not that day she did but she knew it was coming, coming too soon and so she made her bed to lie in it.
I don’t like to remember that day because it’s the day I became an orphan really. It’s the day that began a whole series of shitty things I had to do that kept reminding me my mother was dead and about her life-some of which I was not a part. Having to talk to so many people who “knew her” and what an “angel” she was now looking down on us all. How charitable she was, how generous. What a loving person.
I say yes to all those things but to remember or see only the perfect things in someone when they die is to cheat them out of a life. A life is messy, you make bad choices as well as good ones. You love the best you can and even sometimes you screw it up. You say hateful things. You make lasting mistakes. You forget somethings you should have remembered. It all goes together in a life that you live.
The day that I remember my mother the most is my birthday. I had a big one this year in March-my 40th. For my mothers 40th birthday her friends threw her a funeral. Coffin, eulogy, her mother dressed in black-the whole bit only also filled with lots of tequila and coccaine. Her friends are and were a scream. It was funny and big and a spectacle and she deserved a big party that was silly and fun because she was very silly and fun. I miss her telling me she loves me, “Best of everyone”.
I also miss my mother on her birthday because I was so glad she was born. I was, despite all our bickering and fighting, completely in love with her as all children are with their mothers. She was just hard to love all the time-but aren’t we all?
Isn’t that the point of living a life-having people love you even when you are an asshole, comforting you during stupid trivial upsets, holding your hand when you want to push them away in fright, laughing with you after something stupid?
I don’t miss her more on the day she died and I try to forget about that day as much as I can. I prefer to think of her living and not leaving me here with this amazing life that I can’t share with her anymore.
“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”