::Missing Mom::

Today my mom would have been 69.

When I was young, that seemed old.  Really old.

From my 46 year old vantage point, that's young.  Not spring chicken young, but young.

Not having tragedy strike our family in the way I'd seen it strike so many of my friends' lives previously, watching cancer take my mom last fall was surreal.  Like it wasn't happening, even as it was happening.  I kept expecting it to feel more.....poignant and momentous.  Don't get me wrong, it was.  But it didn't feel that way until I looked back at it from the distance of several months.  NOW it feels poignant and momentous.

When she was sick, and getting sicker, I thought about that first Christmas without her, her first birthday after she'd gone, the one year anniversary of her leaving us.  And I couldn't quite imagine what it would be like.

But now I know.  It's like a dull ache that sorta resides in the recesses of your heart and mind and soul and body and emotions.  Like something is 'not quite right', and that life feels different.  There's an emptiness that can't ever be filled and questions that will never be answered.  As final as death is, it has the audacity to offer endless questions that never get answered, like an itch that won't go away....what really happened here?  what happens next?  where did she go?  how do I live now?  You either learn to live with the open-endedness of that, or you go crazy trying to answer them.

Learning to live with the unanswerable questions and the dull ache of loss is an exercise of balancing a life full of joy with a good dose of terror lurking in the wings.  Of realizing life is short, so get out there and live....and full of the unknown, the out of control, and the pain so better to stay in bed and throw the blankets over your head.

When death visits close to home, a deep vulnerability takes up residence where previously ignorance and bliss held sway.

It is just all kinds of wrong that my mom died of cancer.

Life is out-of-sync and wonky, yet still,  amazingly enough, full of gifts.  Life feels more real to me now.

Sorta like how you don't appreciate the sunshine unless you've experiences rain.

Death rained down on my family in a tempest I wouldn't wish on anyone.  It was a relentless, downward slide into an abyss of unknown and untested emotions, into fear and pain....like a storm on the horizon gathering strength, sirens blaring.  I really tried to just give myself over to the gales, to experience it as it happened, trying not to avoid it and dread it, trying to take each moment as it was given, and to let the future take care of itself.  But it was awful.  The terrible beauty of the transition from this life to whatever comes next is as real as it gets...and that kind of reality is shocking.  It is stark and final.  It leaves you raw if you allow it.  It changes you, shifts your paradigm in ways I haven't yet found words to articulate.

And yet.

The sun still shines. The storm passes.  Only now, I'm ever-aware of the damage left behind....the bent emotions and sheared off memories left in the storm's wake.  So I reach for the warmth and light to comfort me, to give me strength to cope with the ever-present ache in my Self.  Because the one who gave me life is no more on this earth.

Happy Birthday Mom.  You continue to teach me as you did in life to embrace joy in the midst of sadness. Cling with abandon to the hope that life is good no matter what.

And always, always keep a stash of chocolate somewhere in the house.


Cassie Bustamante said...

thinking of you , cindy. do you read lilyfield life? fiona's mom died last year, too, and yesterday was her anniversary.

Aimee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aimee said...

I wish I could say that it gets easier, but the truth is you just get more used to the loss. On July 8th my brother should have turned 37. We lost him three years ago in a very unexpected tragic way. There are still questions that pop into my head but that seems to be pointless. Wishing you peace as you continue on your journey.

Leslie said...

Hi Cindy,

My Mom's been gone for 18 years now and there are still days that I regret doing/not doing something or questions that come up that I'd like to ask her about.

Thinking of you,

Three Birds Inspired said...

I know how your heart must ache. I wish peace for you.

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

So difficult, I hope you can carry on with the happy memories of your mom. Hugs to you.

Miss Chelsea said...

I just want to reach out and hug you. We lost my grandmother to leukemia and I remember trying to imagine the same things (first holidays without her), it's so tough... and time doesn't ever seem to heal it

Pamela M. Steiner said...

(((hugs))) to you today. My Mom passed away 7 years ago at the ripe old age of 89, having lived a good life, and I still miss her so much. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her (and now my Daddy too) and just want to pick up the phone and call them and talk to them again, and to hear their voices once more. My heart goes out to you today. I know it hurts. Blessings to you my friend.

Kate said...

Dear Cindy
Sending you love and hugs for your loss of your sweet mom. Blessings to you always


Anonymous said...

I struggle with these thoughts too and it has been 7 years since I lost my mom unexpectedly. I miss her more each year that comes and hope that sweet memories flood your day and give you comfort.

Unknown said...

That was beautifully said, Cindy. I can so relate, on a different level of course, with my own family, and what we had all gone through. You are a very special, young lady. And I thank you for allowing me to share your family with you.


Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Wrapping you in a warm cyber hug Cindy. Remember that your words here help heal others.

Unknown said...

Oh Cindy, that was so beautiful, so real... it touched me deeply. The ache never goes away, but the memories of the good times and the love never leave us either. It is both bitter and sweet, and you cry and you laugh.... I wish you peace and good memories, and remember you have a large family who loves you, Mary Lynn and Adam very much.

Unknown said...

The 30th anniversary of my mothers death just passed on July 11th. I wish I could tell you it would get easier but it doesn't. One thing you can be thankful for is you had her for twenty one years longer than I had mine. She died at only 47 from the dreaded cancer. My biggest regret is that she never got to meet her grand kids.

Anita Ward said...

Beautiful, I know how you feel!

CM Shaw said...

May peace and light fill you as you walk forward with her in your heart.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

I'll be thinking of you in that difficult week. That post was beautifully written.

rebecca @ older and wisor said...

I love yo mama and I didn't even know her. Why is it that life always feels more real after we've been torn apart? There's got to be some sort of short cut to learn these lessons, no? Hugs, my friend.


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