When someone dies, it’s so easy to push everything and everyone else to the back of your mind. Understandable, of course, especially when that person was as precious as my dad.
Of course, I’ve been checking in with Mom daily. She is – as expected – hurting and raw, rising above, doing what needs to be done… and full of gratitude.
As I’ve written about my dad over the last week-and-a-half, I’ve thought (more than once!) that I must always remember to tell people how much I love them while they’re alive.
I think I’ve done fairly well with it so far, much to the embarrassment of many. (Secretly proud of myself but also understanding that it’s uncomfortable for some people.) Every single person I’ve ever loved has been mentioned in this blog… some of them more than once. 🙂
The relationship between Mom and me has been discussed throughout this blog, too. As you know, she is my mentor, mama and muse. Dr. Mom. There are “Mom’s Pick” tags on books she’s gifted and suggested. She is clearly a *very important* part of my life!
If you had asked my fifteen-year-old self what the relationship with my mother would be like in adulthood, I might have used words like, “Strained” or “Complicated”.
Today, I would use words like, “Symbiotic” and “Cherished”.
It didn’t happen overnight. Nor did it take years. It wasn’t complicated at all. In fact, not that much changed… except the people involved.
I thought she hated me. She thought I hated her. Neither was true. In fact, it was the exact opposite.
About a month ago, my mom shared a story about something that happened in the 1970s… and it ended with this…
“I was trying to protect you,” she said.
After that phone call, I sat back in bed. Mom has used that phrase several times recently. Each time it was said, I got a niggling of familiarity… she had said this before… and before that. Forever. She has been trying to protect me… forever.
I had no idea… at least, not when I was fifteen. I thought she was secretive and kept things from me.
How had I missed the truth?
She was trying to protect me.
It’s what I’ve always tried to do for my own children…
It’s what a mother does!
It opened the floodgates of long-ago memories. The times she was there for me… changed plans for me… upended her life for me…
It happened again and again (and again!) throughout my life.
There was a golden thread woven through our relationship. Somehow, I’d missed it.
She took me aside at my youngest daughter’s wedding and said, “I’m not sure you know how much you’re loved,” and I said, “I do, Mom, really,” as I squirmed uncomfortably in my chair. She said, “No, I don’t think you do…”
Looking back… I totally get it… in a way I didn’t at the time. It was an urgent plea. PLEASE UNDERSTAND, she was saying… we love you... I LOVE YOU.
And, it made me uncomfortable. That much emotion made me uncomfortable. See, even ten years ago, I was not allowing myself to be fully authentic and vulnerable.
How much love had I missed in my life because I’d been too uncomfortable to embrace it?
I hear you, Mom! I see your face. I hear your words. I carry that moment in my heart.
As I sat at my computer this morning, fully intending to write about Food & Mood… I was led to another path. I got out my pens and paper and drew this little picture. This post was written around it… and through it… and into it…
It is a message to mothers everywhere… and their children…
But most of all, it is a message to my mom…
I love you. I soooooo wish I had longer arms.