Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008, would have been my mother's 57th birthday. She died when she was 43. Shortly after giving birth to her fourth child (she lost her third due to miscarriage), her host of health issues surfaced. She spent a month in the hospital. I was six, younger than my Ladybug is now. I remember her letting me get in her hospital bed and eat her ice cream. That is who she was. Her predicament was irrelevant. She wanted those around her, and her children especially, to be comfortable and at ease. During the year of these events, my mother turned 32; this year, I turn 32.
It's easy to diefy a person when they're gone. You remember all of the good and none of the bad. That's not the case here. My mother's foot had a permanent addresss in my behind. Sometimes, I still maintain that she was extra, but she also knew I was full of nonsense and shenanigans. She had no intention of allowing me to turn my life into shit on her watch. I went to great lengths to attempt to be a "bad girl," but my mother fought that. Ferociously.
What impressed me most about my mother, was that she didn't just fight for me because I was her daughter. She did so because I was a human being, and she desired happiness and success for everyone. If you were to speak to anyone who had the pleasure of her company, they would echo that sentiment. Her funeral was filled with countless people, crying as though they had lost their best friend. Young people, who on any other occasion, would have assumed the stance of stoic ambivalence, breaking down as though they had lost their own mother. But that is how she touched people. When she talked to, laughed with, or counseled you, she was your best friend. When she hugged you, she was your mother. There was never an ulterior motive to her kindness. She was a kind person, because that's how she believed she should be.
The last conversation I had with her was over the phone. I remember the conversation on her end seeming rather forced. What, really, do you talk about to your 17 year old kid when you know that you're dying? I offhandedly mentioned something we could do when she got out of the hospital. She began to cry. For years, I thought it's because she knew she was dying and she was afraid. I will not say that my mother was a superhuman being with no fear of the unknonwn that is death, but I only believe that played a small role. However, the first time I held Finge in my arms, I knew it was because she couldn't bear to leave behind her children. Even at the very end, she was worried about us.
Since I was the oldest, I did the most as far as helping my mother was concerned. I remember once, being home with her, going through our daily routine of cleaning, general care and such. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and tearfully apologized for me having to go through "all this" when I should be having fun. The same woman who took care of me in a body cast; the same woman who would stay up all night sewing just so that her four daughters would have new, pretty dresses for church; the same woman who declined countless wedding and party invitations because, according to her, "I have four girls - that's a party in and of itself." This woman was offering me an apology for doing for her what she had done for us our whole lives - a thousand fold.
My father picked her final dress. I can only hope, with every fiber of my being, that it has disintegrated into nothingness. It was a pink contraption with matching lipstick. My mother LIVED in technicolor: oranges, bright yellows, bold purples, red (never enough red), fuschias and teals. No pinks. Not ever. For the better part of two years I watched my mother with an unparallelled sense of sadness. I couldn't change her loss of health. I couldn't change her loss of spirit. I couldn't change her loss of life. I couldn't even change that stupid pink dress. But I could change her lipstick. Radiant Red was her color; Fashion Fair her brand. I didn't see any reason for that to change. My cousin produced a tube from her purse and we changed it.
Finding an appropriate ending for this post is so difficult, because, how do you wrap up in a few paragraphs, someone who had such a profound effect on everything that you are? It dawned on me that, in a couple of years, my mother will have been gone from me longer than I knew her. Despite that, I still carry her with me every day. I look at Finge and know how she would have spoiled him rotten (she wanted more boys in the family). I laugh when I think of how she would have dressed up Ladybug and let her play with her wigs. When I am at my lowest, and most lost, she shows up in my dreams. So no, I can't form a typical "conclusion" on this post. I can just promise you that there will be another.