My, How You've Grown
This month marked the six year anniversary of my mom’s death. As usual, time managed to dull many emotions and left only memories and regrets in their place. Tear jerker mother/daughter commercials that used to make me sob now only occasionally cause me to tear up. In spite of that, there still seems to be a raw nerve or two lurking around and waiting for the right time to make itself known.
Having always been a freak for dates, I tend to remember the date and/or time of all kinds of life events. So for me, remembering her and the events surrounding her passing isn’t just about the morning I found her, or the day of the memorial, it’s also about all the other days.
Days like the last day I saw her (we fought) and had veggie tacos for dinner; or the last time we spoke on the phone (the 4th of July). Or, the day after that which turned out to be last time she would ever call me, I was under the weather and had my husband take the call. She didn’t answer when I called her back later that evening. She never answered over the course of the next two days either. The memories of those days are the ones that really make me sick to my stomach.
After a surreal week and a half, I had to turn right around and pack up her apartment. It was a struggle to decide what to keep and what to donate. As an only child whose parents had divorced eons ago, I was the only one to settle her affairs. It was difficult to part with anything. I would pick up a towel and feel like I was touching her hand, the towel acting as a bridge across time and space. In the end, I managed to weed through the remnants of her life and carefully pack up boxes that would eventually take me years to be able to reopen to sort through again.
These were dark days, but they also came with a sense of clarity and a weird sort of peace. For a long time, I wasn’t fazed by anything or anyone. There wasn’t anything important enough to get a rise out of me. I operated in a dead zone of emotion and felt a strange kind of empathy and kindness for nearly everyone I encountered. In the years since, I have made it a priority to keep that peaceful detachment, like a Labrador running through the mud puddle of life, letting the beads of bullshit roll off my coat.
But, for some reason this July I oscillated between rage and keeping my cool. I kept letting little things get my blood up to a hard boil. In under two weeks, I managed to alienated myself at work, test the patience of my very understanding spouse and piss my neighbor off – well, that one was HIS fault – honest!
I think year VI may have been the year of anger. A time to purge any negative emotions left clinging to the cracks and crevices of my memory. It takes guts to get pissed off at your dead mother and it takes brutal honesty to admit that you have those feelings. But, late one night this year when I hurled accusations and obscenities into the balmy south Florida sky, I could almost hear her egging me on; encouraging me to let it all out, telling me my anger was valid, toxic and needed to go.
Fortunately, I seem to be regaining some of my composure and patience. Whatever I was possessed with has seemed to run its course (hopefully) and I’m feeling decompressed and a little more, how should I say…appropriate; a little sad, a little teary, but ultimately remembering and cherishing the memories – good and bad – that I have of my mother.
Debra Lynn Progar 3.19.1954 – 7.7.2005