As it approaches that first death anniversary of the year, I find myself becoming more and more pensive. Retreating into myself for awhile can sometimes be nice, and this year, I'm sick with a cold, too. Furthermore, it's still pretty chilly out and I'm in the suburbs, dog & cat-sitting for an older couple who are away in Mexico. Therefore, I have more than one reason for hibernating this March 2nd.
I always find myself wanting to write something about my mom this time of year, but I don't always know what I want to say. It's never NOT painful, but it has certainly eased up as the years have gone by. Sixteen years this year, but some things still remain vivid. I'm grateful for that - I don't want to forget, not even the most awful moments.
I don't often blog about personal stuff anymore. My blog is about books, film, writing and libraries. But honestly, the root of my passion for these things can all be traced back to my mother.
Here's something strange: no matter how much time goes by, I still sometimes find myself watching or reading something, or wandering through some shop or sitting in the window of some coffeehouse and briefly, there's the thought, "Mom would've liked this." Or, if I watch an older movie, I find myself wishing I could ask her what she thought. Months ago, I went through a kick where I was watching all these old romantic comedies -- ones with Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn. I could not help but think of how my mom might swoon about how "purdy" Cary Grant was or want to ask her if she loathed Doris Day's characters as much as I did (knowing mom, probably not -- but it would've been interesting to have that discussion).
My mom and I weren't really close when she died. In fact, I would say that she probably was in a phase of not liking me too much, and I don't blame her. I was angsty, kept to myself, snapped at any question she dare ask me. I was a terrible, moody brat for whatever reason an unhappy post-adolescent tends to be such. But in all my years with her, I was also a keen observer and in our best moments, I loved to listen to my mom share celebrity gossip from her day or tell me what movies I should see (I saw Mr. Smith Goes To Washington a few years after her death, but it was a movie she recommended). I liked to talk to her about books, and she listened well to what I liked, too, I think. My mom might have made a great librarian in reader's advisory. My very best Christmas ever was the year that she got me all of the Sweet Valley High and The Baby-Sitters Club paperbacks that had been released so far and that I didn't have already, back when paperbacks were a lot cheaper, and I opened a box that morning to all these glossy pastel books, with their new, inky scent. I don't even remember exactly what year that was, but I remember that it was the nicest gift I had or have ever received.
After her own mother, my Nana, died when I was 14, I remember my mom saying, sadly, and in sort of a warning, "You only have one mother. Once she's gone, she's gone." A little melodramatic, perhaps, and yes, I also live in a world where many have two mothers. But I get what she meant. You only have the people in your life for a lifetime - that's all you get. And when they're gone, even if you believe in heaven, you will have to live out the rest of your life on earth without them.
So here I am. Living.