May and June are months that have weighed heavily on me for the past 6 years now. These months serve as an insistent reminder that I no longer have a mother. First, there is Mother’s Day, followed by my mom’s May 18th birthday, and the anniversary of her death close on its heels. The dates themselves are important, thick with memory and morbid meaning, but it’s the months as a whole that are more shocking and sickening to the senses. They represent the time that I watched, powerless and petulant, as the claws of death, slowly but very surely, sunk deeper and deeper into the being of someone I loved unspeakably and needed desperately. No part of my mother was safe from this slow infestation; she was affected physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
I think particularly of the night, the first time, that I realized my mom was going to die. You’d think it would have happened sooner, but in these situations we cling hungrily at senseless hope, and so I became aware of the truth probably only a week or a few days before she was gone. It must have been quite late at night because it was very dark. And I was laid out, screaming between sobs, giving ragged and nightmarish voice to all my horror, fear, anger, and helplessness. I wasn’t so much pouring these things out as they tumbled from me, escaping unbidden. Most of all, my heart aches for my father on that night, faced with the hellish and impossible task of comforting both his grief-possessed 18-year-old daughter and his dying wife as she wondered, to the best of her diminished ability, if “Hanny was alright”. I marvel endlessly at the strength and grace he possesses.
The years that have followed that night contain confusion, anger, and sadness too big to explore in this single piece. More daunting for me, perhaps, is the the reality that so much more is to come; mere days ago, I picked up a book entitled Motherless Daughters, only to discover that I could make my way through no more than 2 paragraphs before I had to tuck it away again, likely to remain there for years before I feel able to broach it once again.
From a rather detached sense, though, I find it fascinating and incredible what the human spirit is able to do, what each of us is capable of transcending and surmounting.
“To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you.” -Yann Martel