Saturday, May 07, 2016

I'll Ride the Wave

Nine weeks today. And it's Mother's Day weekend.

I've never been a big fan of Mother's Day for starters. Mom and I never had the BFF type of relationship, and we're both at fault for that. Make no mistake -- there was always love present, but it was an imperfect love at best, as most love is. I believe that she had an expectation that her daughter would be a sweet, compliant, dependent child ..... and she got me, the most noncompliant, independent child ever. I baffled her, I'm sure. She'd have to wait for her son to come along in order to have that beautiful compliant-dependent thing happen.

On top of all that, I came to the realization in my 20s that my own expectations for being a mom would probably not happen. That was, at that time, a very hard pill to swallow -- while at the same time, I had the fleeting thought of "well at least I won't have to repeat things....." Such conflicted emotions about my own chances for motherhood as well as my feelings about my mom. As time has gone on, I purely have loved being a godmother and honorary auntie and "Miss Annette" to a slew of kids -- and I'll take that as my stab at motherhood such as it was. But I also know that God is wise and there's a damn good reason I don't have children of my own...... Mother's Curse and all that? It's real. I cannot imagine how far under the jail I would be if I'd had a girlchild with even half the sass and dark broodiness that I had. So yeah......

But then February 22 happened..... and all that came with it. And my heart is forever seared by March 2, the last time my mother spoke to me. Her last word to me was my name: "Hey Annette!" said with an enthusiasm she hadn't had in days. My heart shattered that day -- I knew why I was there, and I sometimes think Mom did too. All three of us in the room at the same time in the middle of the day? She had to know. After that, she went so quickly and steadily downhill, and seventy-two hours later, she was gone.

On that Friday, I couldn't hold her hand, but I put my hand on her shoulder. I kissed a dry scaly forehead over and over. I told her not to talk, that there was nothing else she could say. She was so out of it and so drugged at that point, I don't know that I would have wanted to hear her thoughts then. Then again, she might have been the most unguarded she'd ever been. There were so many things I thought I wanted to say, to get off my chest, but in the end, none of that would have mattered. Only love did. And I gave it to her in copious amounts. I sang to her....... I told her I was so glad I'd gotten her voice, her strong alto, and her love of music.

I sang "Given to Fly" conveniently omitting the F-bomb. Believe me, while it wasn't like Mom had never heard me utter the word before, I surely didn't want that resonating in her head during that time, and I didn't want her waking up out of a drug-induced stupor and using her last reserve of energy to sock me in the jaw and tell me to be more ladylike...... Although, honestly, it wouldn't have surprised me either.... HA!!! I sang "I Am Mine" -- not sure why but it was beautiful and I wanted to.

And 3 weeks ago, when I was damn lucky enough to see Pearl Jam here in Greenville, they did "Given to Fly" and I shed not one single solitary tear. I was too busy beaming. But I had told my brother that if they did "Release" then he would have to find someone to pull me off the floor, because I didn't know if I could do it on my own -- I would be a sobbing heap.

Instead, I did use lyrics from both songs when I did the Pearl Jam Fan Portrait session that day. Worth every penny (and can't wait to get my photo, can't wait to see the book when it comes out later this year!)

Today, as I type this, I listen to "Release" ..... I shed a few tears but not many.....  because I am myself like her somehow. Not just with her voice (still one of the best gifts she ever gave me and it didn't cost her a dime), but with other things too. Dad always said Mom and I were too much alike, and now I believe it. Both stubborn and headstrong -- perhaps me, even more so. Both voracious readers. People told me all throughout mom's visitation (where we used the above photo of mom) that they couldn't believe how much we looked alike. I never ever noticed it until a couple of years ago, and I still don't always see it.

I see the world, feel the chill
Which way to go, windowsill
I see the words on a rocking horse of time
I see the birds in the rain

Oh dear dad (mom), can you see me now
I am myself like you somehow
I'll ride the wave where it takes me
I'll hold the pain, release me

Oh dear dad (mom), can you see me now
I am myself, like you somehow
I'll wait up in the dark, for you to speak to me
I'll open up, release me
Release me
Release me
Release me

I still talk to her..... every time I see a bird swoop near the car. Whenever I find a feather lying on the ground in my path. Wings and birds and flight and feathers......... And there are days when I say to the air around me, "Dang it, you old bat, why? Why did you not fight harder for years when we told you to? Why did you just stop trying? Dammitall, we miss you and we wanted you here just a little longer." Yeah, just me working through that lovely little "anger" phase.

Well, I've said it a million times before and I'll repeat myself: Grief is never linear. It comes in waves and at the most inopportune times and places. And those stages are not stages but phases and you will come and go in and out of them for years on end. You do not graduate and move to the next one -- "hooray! all done with denial!" -- but you move in them for years to come.

And you do not ever -- ever, ever, ever, ever, ever -- get over it.  How in the world can you ever expect to get over love? You live with a gaping, yawing chasm which can never be filled.

This year, I have all the more reasons to hate Mother's Day. I probably will for years to come.