Photograph by Pete Longworth

Mending with Our Mothers

When your relationship with your mother seems difficult, it helps to read the hearts of those who’ve lost their mothers. Here, three of us who’ve recently lost our mothers offer brief thoughts; may these writings ease your work with your mother and help you become the divine mother you wish you’d had, in order to find compassion for her, and to mother yourself.

I. Amy Leydon

As I looked up at the clouds tonight, I marveled at how they were not moving. They were fixed in an absolute puff of white. And then, somehow, the fire breathing dragon turned into a happy elephant and then an opened mouthed rabbit, face down, belly flat to the earth. The illusion of permanence floated so obviously above my face. Why did I not get this before?

We talk in cavalier ways of impermanence and being unattached but it is not realistic. Attachment is a fundamental way of life. To love is to be attached. I cling to life, to love. I am not ready to give up on that.

Don’t tell me she will always be with me. She will not. Her arms cannot wrap around my body. Her lips cannot touch my cheek. Her laugh cannot permeate my being. She is not with me now. Not in the way I want her to be.

I want to have a spiritual perspective on this but I do not. I do not accept this. I want another day. I want another moment. I want to cling to her indefinitely. I want her back.

II. Larisa Forman

She did not want to die in the winter in Russia. She didn’t want to inconvenience people with digging her grave in the frozen dirt.

Wait, Why are my aunts at the funeral talking how good Uber is? And smiling? Shouldn’t the world stop now?

First New Years Eve without her. I finally framed and hung the painting. I can pick whatever frames I like now.

First International Women’s day without her. Nobody is expecting my phone call. No one needs to see my first daffodils and tulips in the back yard via Skype.

First Easter without her. I wish I learned the recipes. I didn’t.

No more flea markets, coupons, Chinese buffets, no more cat videos. No more outlet shopping, overstuffed, overweight suitcases or countless gifts for people “you don’t know them” I don’t need to teach more classes so I can send her more money.

Every birthday I sent my mom a bottle of perfume. She used to say: “A girl without perfume is a girl without a dream.” Her birthday would have been next week…

III. Elena Brower

I thought about the last time I hugged you today, just now.

You held joy. Your eyes sparkled like I hadn’t seen in some time,
even though we’d just discussed that you weren’t feeling well,
and I held your feet because I knew; I could feel it too.

Your hair looked really cute that day. Maybe I told you.

And the last time you walked down our hall,
you looked back at me, almost impishly,
told me loudly how you loved me.
Then, “Mimi loves Jonah!” like always, smiling.

Nothing, and everything.

I secretly wished you were fine,
and even waited some time to call again
so as not to seem overly concerned.

You were gone within three weeks.

Of course I wish I’d done more, or said more, but now
I get to write it and know you know the core of this,
even though I couldn’t express it then.

It’s a list of what I wish I’d done.

I wish I had invited you over a LOT more.
And cooked with you, and sat on my couch with you
and listened to the stillness.
I wish I’d asked you to come to the tiny little school things.
I wish I had come to visit and
I wish I’d been more present every time you’d asked me
to look through some box of my old stuff that you so
carefully saved.

I wish I would’ve been more patient.
I wish I hadn’t been so sensitive.
I wish I’d taken things less personally.
I wish I could tell you, clearly and softly,

I know you just LOVE ME.
And that’s why you were hard on me.
And that’s why you always called me.
And that’s why you just wanted to be near me.
And that’s why you even brought slippers to my house
to wear when you’d visit again — those striped little scandals.
I made so much fun then. But they’re mine now, and I’ve
decided to start wearing them.

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