My mother left us five years ago today, an anniversary that’s hitting me harder this year than it has the past couple. The five-year mark seems to be driving home the truth that she’s gone permanently. It’s one of those things you know in your mind, but don’t really know in your bones when the loss is fresh. Last night, I kept thinking, “I didn’t understand she was going to be dead for this long.”
When my mom took me for my first day of kindergarten, an eon ago, I was puzzled by the children in the class who were crying, distraught over their mothers leaving without them. I thought to myself, “Don’t they know they’re going to come back?”
Now I’m dropped off, the day has grown long, and I see she’s not returning for me. I’m on my own here. But she didn’t toss me upon the world with no provisions or comforts at all. She had a fascination with bells, and collected all sorts. I experience a lot of joy from this tangible item she left with me — a good part of her bell collection. I rang them all for her this morning.
“Ring the bells that still can ring.” — Leonard Cohen
It’s been six months since my mom died and I disappeared into a blogging vortex. I didn’t know if I wanted to continue this blog, since it’s about sandwich generation issues and that’s no longer my life. I also felt little motivation to do anything beyond the absolute essentials of life.
Eight days after my mother’s passing, her sister followed. The two had always been close and even followed each other from city to city throughout their lives. My childhood was spent going back and forth between my home and my aunt’s, only a few houses apart. I suppose I’ve been in mourning. Do we use that word any more? I could have used some days of drawing the curtains and sitting in a dark house, with no expectations on me.
What’s happened in my life the past six months? I’m trying to remember. Settling my mom’s affairs has been an ongoing process. I’ve been working for pay as much as I can because we certainly can use the money. In May, my older kid turned 21 and my younger one turned 18 a week before graduating from high school. (As an aside, nobody prepared me for the amount of work involved in having a high school senior in the house.) I took my son on a couple of college tours and then helped him through the process of applying and enrolling at Missouri S&T, where he will soon begin his freshman year. We’ve had a car rear-ended and totaled and replaced. My 21-year-old has announced plans to quit school and move to Michigan with their significant other, and then changed course, deciding to stay in school here, while looking at the possibility of having the S.O. find a job in our area. I wouldn’t have guessed that my younger child would be the first to move out, but there it is.
I’ve experienced many nights of fitful sleep filled with bad dreams, followed by days of pushing my zombie self through the exhaustion minute by minute. I survived my first Mothers’ Day as an orphan, not without a river of tears. And I’ve had a few happy days spent fulfilling my wish list of activities to do with my kids before they’re gone. We took a day trip to Kansas City to visit the Steamboat Arabia Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. We spent a Saturday seeing the castle ruins and springs at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
We drank bubble tea (it was interesting.) I tried to help my son raise a few dollars by listing his extensive Nerf collection on Ebay, but nobody bought anything.
And I came to the point where I felt like blogging again. I think I’m going to continue with this blog, shifting the focus from sandwich generation topics to the experience of parenting young adults, a phase of life that offers its own big buffet of issues.
I hope a few people will share the journey with me.