I write about many personal subjects in the hopes of reaffirming, for some, that we are not alone. I do not speak to enlighten, only to inspire; I do not make suggestions in order to teach but to help others reframe. I share to confirm the human element that exists in all of us.
I am thinking now of a couple of friends, people whom I’ve known for almost the duration of my 30-plus years in Cambria, that are suffering on a most personal level. While I do so miss my mom (and even my father to some degree) on a regular basis, I do not envy the position these friends are in now with parents in ailing health.
There is a young teenaged lady in town with whom I’ve forever bonded, although she is not aware of it. She was being born in the same hospital during the time in which my mom was in the process of dying. As I write this, it was 17 years ago today she finally did leave us. Life. Death. It was such an interesting transition, the irony of it which I did not miss while hanging around the hospital.
My heart goes out to my friends because although our relationships with our moms may differ, there is nothing quite like losing your mother. I know. I know many people who know. All I can say is my heart goes out to you. You never forget them but the sting does eventually lessen. Life becomes foggy for a while. Like having your first child.
Twenty-seven years ago today as I write (Mom died on Miles’ 10th birthday), I had stoked the woodstove in our little cabin here in Cambria and, lo and behold, a beautiful boy was born at home (planned). It’s so weird — you can never again imagine NOT having a child once you’ve had one. Just as you cannot imagine what it’s like not having your parent to call and check in on, or razz you about something or ask something. Or anyone else you’ve lost, for that matter.
Life is such a drama. Change is so hard. Reality is so surreal. I’d hoped today that my son was celebrating in a big way with lots of friends. Of course, I was also hoping he’d call or answer a text. How dare he have so much fun! Kidding. But, starting the night before his birthday, I begin the countdown, “About this time I was going into labor.”
“Now, I was stoking the fire and calling the midwives.” “Oh, about now is when I heard Stephanie’s phone ring off the hook.”
Thankfully, there is not the same anticipation for death. The emotions still swell. The days and hours are not forgotten, who was with her for what shift. Speaking with Miles’ dad today (We at least spoke to each other and congratulated ourselves on a job well done), he reminded me of a dear friend of his who died two years ago.
“When I worked at the radio station, I always chose to celebrate the artist’s birthday rather than their death date. Just seems more right.”
And so it is with someone who doesn’t necessarily have their face on an album cover. I celebrate the birthday of my beautiful son. I celebrate the days I had with my mom until this time. I celebrate the amazing women my friends turned out to be, due at least in part to their mothers, over who they are now heavy-hearted.
For any of you in a similar situation, my heart goes out to you. But, be open. My mother has visited me several times, I am sure. Your loved one will always be in your heart, on your walls, draped across your bed or in whatever memento that brings their particular emotion to the surface. For that is what we all are to each other: a feeling.
May you feel peace and love as I do for my son, my mom and many others.