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A Posthumous Season

Posted 02-08-2020 at 12:22 AM by Catman
Updated 02-08-2020 at 12:33 AM by Catman

My mother's birthday is just around the corner, and so I went back and read some of the stuff I'd written shortly after her passing. I figure here would be as good a place as any to post it

I've only missed my mother's birthday once, and it was her last one. She'll be returning the favor next month--sometimes mom could be a little vindictive like that.

It's always easier to leave than to be left behind, but I didn't think it would be this hard. My mother was not a perfect woman: no, I'm not going to name whatever criticisms I might have, because compared to myself, she was a saint. "Don't throw stones in a glass house," as they say. But it's these imperfections that stand out to me most right now. Like after I had gotten into a car accident on my way to pick up lunch. God I was hungry. But the only thing I had to stuff my face with was the car's airbag. So I did what any young man in trouble would do: I called my mom. After she came to pick me up, she fussed at me for following too close.
"The car hit me from behind! He launched me into the other car," I responded.
"But still..." she retaliated, satisfied with her argument.
On our way home I asked if we could stop by somewhere to pick up food. Again, I was starving.
"I'm tired," she said.
It's funny now, but I was annoyed back then. I'd give any thing to be annoyed with her right now.

I didn't realize until after she passed away how much of a pervasive presence she has in my life.

There are a cornucopia of wonderful things about my mother. Like how she responded to every gift with an elated, "Ooooohhh," despite the sometimes meager offerings. Just this past Christmas, she paid for my wife and I's phone bill, our car's insurance, the house we're renting's flood insurance, gave us a $100 Rouse's gift card, as well as various household items (ex. pillows, bedsheets, etc). I got her a wooden block with an "S" on it.
"Ooooohhh," she excitedly exclaimed in spectacular fashion. "This would look great right over there!" And she'd proceed to proudly place the decorum somewhere prominently in the house.
It's not that the gift was some haphazard afterthought--I know she liked those sorts of things--but I always told myself that one day I was going to buy her something really nice, something she would remember and appreciate for years afterward. I know stuff can't always be gauged by their price-tag, but it's just another thing in a long list of things on my list of regrets that I'll never be able to do now that she's gone. And that kinda hurts; it hurts a lot.

One comforting element about this whole ordeal is the realization of how loved my mother is, particularly how my father adores her. I never really had doubts about his love for my mom, but it's extremely comforting nevertheless to know that, despite my mom and I's many "missed calls," or the sporadic fights between her and one of her children, that she never lived a day with my father without his complete and unconditional love. In this day and age, that's a lot more than most can hope to receive. I can't recall many instances of my father crying, but within the past couple of days he's made due for more than two lifetimes. I think we all have.
After my mother's funeral service, one of her grandchildren handed me a crumpled memorial picture of her.
"You can have this."
"You don't want it?" I asked.
I don't know why, but this angered me at first. My mother loved this boy, and in that moment I selfishly thought that love was wasted. The more I reflect, however, has led me to realize that: (va) it's entirely futile to ascertain what's going on in the mind of a child during a situation like this; and (b) the alternative--to not have been as invested as she was in this boy's life--would be counter-intuitive to the very nature of who my mom was, i.e. a loving person who deeply and unselfishly valued her family above all else. My mother exhibited an abundance of love throughout her life. Sometimes I feel like she gave a lot more than she got back. But the message I learned with this encounter was not to love less.
Poet, Ted Hughes, once wrote, "The only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.” It's hard to disagree. If I'm going to take anything away from my mother's abrupt, unfortunate passing, it is that no moment should go unfulfilled. As human-beings, we are capable of so many wonderful, splendid things, the most important of which is our capacity to care and love one another. My mother did this. I'm working on it now.
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