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Thursday, October 19, 2017

My Mom Died

Grappling with the death of my mother, I take a time out to honor her passing.

My mom died. I haven't written in a while because she is gone, and I just don't know how to make things seem normal when they are not. How can I possibly write articles and musings as if nothing has changed when everything has changed forever? I recognize that everyone's mother dies. I think they call it the Cycle of Life, and I used to offer that phrase to others as a consolation. But now it seems superficial and irritating.

For me, the fact that the sun came out the very next day, that my cell phone continued to ring with business calls from people seeking answers to questions they had asked the day before, is unthinkable. The fact that I laughed not forty-eight hours after my mom stopped breathing seems criminal. You see, I was not finished with her. I have not asked her all I need to know. I was just learning things about her that seemed to make sense of other things. I didn't get to take her on that last trip she wanted to make to Provincetown. I forgot to ask her where she wanted all those needlepoint pillows to go. I wasn't finished, and neither was she.

I didn't want to write about her here. Way too public. But the thing is, if I don't write about her here, I can't write about anything else. For if my mom deserved nothing more, she deserved to have something stop for awhile to mark the moment when she left us all. And so that marker will be my writing. Writing is the only thing I have that I can stop for a time to lay her to rest properly. Nothing else has a stop button.

Let me introduce the best of my mother to you here. The rest of her will go somewhere on the cobwebbed shelves of my mind, where it will haunt me now and then, but will never again see the light of day. I get to do that now. I get to rewrite the future of our relationship as what I always wanted it to be, so I can bring her with me for a moment during an evening and not have to worry about getting her home. I can bring her to that part of the movie that she would have liked. I can ask her to send me a sign, and I can see that sign if I want to. Everything about the two of us will now be exactly as I want it, and that should be something, right?

My mom was quieter than me in every way. We had very different political views. I realized as I was struggling to write her eulogy that she never once tried to change my political leanings, while I tried relentlessly to change hers. She accepted things that I would never have accepted. She accepted other people—including me—the way they were, without trying to make them into something they were not meant to be, or didn't want to be. I like that about her now.

I like that she would give you anything you wanted; she had no real investment in her things. My late mother-in-law, who was my beloved mentor, once told me that within a few days of her death all that she had acquired over the course of nearly 100 years would be dispersed as if no one had ever gathered it. She was right. My mother, on the other hand, gave away much of what she had, so that scattering of belongings will not be so dramatic in her case. Her things live in homes all over the place. Her friends, family, my friends, and strangers have had her things with them since long before she left us.

My mom was the mother who waited for you to call her, just in case a call from her would bother you. She didn't brag about her own achievements, only those of others. Her sense of humor sometimes involved sleight of hand, and was occasionally for her benefit alone. This summer I gave her an Obama mug, just to drive her crazy. I told her there were only 1,000 of them that he was giving away. She asked me if I could get ten more of them. I was pleasantly shocked and got them—which was not easy, I might add. The next day I went into her kitchen and saw that she had put them in the garbage. When I indignantly asked her why, she replied, "You said they were a limited edition. I figured that would be ten more that no one would get to see." It was her joke to herself. She would never have told me she did that. I would have needed to tell people. She never did. In her honor I have vowed to play one joke, once a year, that is for me alone. Just her and me.

That's it. Nothing more. The sun is still shining into my office. Nothing has changed since I started writing this, and tomorrow I will be back to my blog as you have known it. But for the last three weeks it stopped to mark the passing of my mom, Mary Ann Ilse, who lived for eighty-two years the very best she could.



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christinemer is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on My Mom Died

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By jonpercepto on November 07, 2011 at 02:58 pm

Sorry for your loss, and for the depression and disorientation it is causing you. There is nothing anyone could say that would not sound like a cliche. Having lost both my parents at a relatively young age, the wound never heals and there is scar tissue that remains, but what is true is that everything you are or ever will be is an extension of your mother, even if her chapter is closed. Death is that state where we exist only in the minds and hearts of others, and very often, when I think of what I experienced during that time, it still seems like it all happened yesterday.

Regards, jon

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By TonyBerkman on November 07, 2011 at 05:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your mother with us. What she did with the Obama mugs is hilarious. I'm sure you got some of her "good" qualities. :)

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By Angie Alaniz on November 07, 2011 at 06:58 pm

I'm sorry for your loss and please accept my condolences as well.

Sounds like she was well loved.

Death--- the last sleep? No the final awakening.---Walter Scott

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By Theresa H Hall on November 07, 2011 at 08:10 pm

It will take years for the hurt and ache to subside. It takes time and missing our loved ones allows us to immortalize them, too. Allow yourself the room to mourn. Many hugs for you during this sad time.

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By kAlIKoPELI on November 08, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Moms rule... My deepest condolences to you and yours. She will forever live in memory.

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By Lartinos on November 08, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Sorry to hear that. It is quite a revelation that we all pass and the world keeps going. We just need to do the best job we can while we are here and spread out everliving spirit. Your mother brought you great inspiration that you now tell us about. That inturn inspires us.

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By Jane Loedding on November 10, 2011 at 08:25 pm

So sorry for your loss. My mom passed away December of 2010 so I completely understand your pain. Your feelings are very normal. Everyone grieves in different ways. My only advice...let yourself grieve and cry and be sad. For me it comes in waves. I cry almost everyday, but once I feel the pain and let myself wade through that pain I feel better. I don't know that you'll ever 'get over' losing your mom, but you'll learn to live with the loss. She lives on in you and through your stories. Thanks for sharing...she sounds like a sweetheart!

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