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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.
In memory
Debra Lynn Progar 3.19.1954 – 7.7.2005

2 responses to “My, How You've Grown”

  1. Avatar WreckedUm says:

    I understand where you are coming from. My mom passed away seven years ago, and it was somewhat sudden. I say somewhat because for 6 months she was back and forth with her doctor over back pain, and shoulder pain, where one visit led to another then some advil then a nerve specialist then finally an MRI that showed it was a giant tumor sitting on a nerve in her back. the cancer started in her lungs. By the time she got an appointment with a surgeon, the cancer had metastasized, and was in her bones, in her blood. She went in for chemo and died three days later. A week before she was driving to the grocery store to pick up milk.
    On our refrigerator, I still have a letter from a nerve specialist that came to the house the day we buried her saying she had a pinched nerve and needed to be put on muscle relaxers. I still have a lot of blame built up over all that.

    • Avatar Emilybb says:

      Wow, that is an incredible experience. Sorry for your loss. It isn't something many people our age have to deal with, but when I think of all the children out there that have lost one or both parents, I feel fortunate to have had my mom around for 31 years.
      My mom was a Type 1 diabetic, so she was always told she would have a short lifespan. But, the events that led up to her death began with a fall that destroyed her ankle. Her memorial service was exactly 1 year to the day of the fall.
      Thanks for the comment!

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Emily Billings About Emily Billings

Emily Billings is a freelance writer and reluctant marketing director living in South Florida. She doesn't like liars, fakes or phoneys but loves cheese. She spends most of her time at the beach either being lazy or participating in beachy activities like body-boarding and snorkeling. She also enjoys hitting lobs or high backhands that her husband can't return on the tennis court. After a long day, there isn't anything Emily enjoys more than spending time with her husband and cats hypothesizing about the collapse of modern civilization and planning their survival.

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