Apparently, our current Gregorian calendar has only been in use since 1582 when it was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. The “old school” calendar that was used prior to his creation recognized March 25th – the Feast of the Annunciation – as New Year’s Day. I was surprised to learn that Russia and several other countries held out on adopting the Gregorian calendar until the early 1900’s.
Today, however, will always be known to me as the day my mother died. I’m struggling to grasp this fact, because despite it being an entire year ago, it sometimes feels very surreal. During the final few years of her life we had more downs than ups. We struggled on so many levels. She was spiraling into her world of dementia and I was spiraling into my world of… whatever. So many things were falling apart in my life that I just accepted that we were falling apart, too. I’m not going to rehash all of the hurtful things that occurred because there’s just no point to it now. But I have come to the realization that there are times that you always want your mother, no matter how old you are and no matter how dysfunctional your relationship has been.
2011 was a very poopy year for me. Mom’s death was just the beginning of a chain of many other devastating events. Some of them I’ve explained here on my blog but many of them I haven’t discussed at all because they’ve just been too much to deal with in a public venue. But on more than one occasion, I know I’ve said to myself, “I want my mom.” And I’m genuinely grief-stricken to realize that she’s gone. Slowly, event by painful event, I’m realizing that she is gone. No longer can I put my head on her lap and feel her stroke my hair and tell me that everything is going to be all right. She’s not there to kiss away the boo-boos. Or warn me of the poor choice I’m about to make. Or encourage me to do the right thing.
Oh, okay. Those events were few and far between. I constantly struggled to make my mom proud of me. I know I’m overly critical of myself, but if she ever was proud, she was reluctant to say anything to me about it. She had told me on more than one occasion, “I love you, but I don’t like you very much.” Maybe it was because we were both stubborn. We both shut down emotionally when we were wounded. We both struggled with feeling loved. Maybe those issues played into our combative relationship. I don’t know. But whatever it was, we were more at odds with each other than not.
Regardless, there was a time last year where my skin was crawling and I had absolutely no hope of escaping a harrowing situation. My mind swirled with who I could possibly reach out to who would understand and offer me something – anything – other than what I was playing on a constant loop through my head. I wanted to die. I wanted my misery to end. And I knew the only person who would understand was my mom. Never in my entire life had I needed her more. And of all times for her to be unavailable, well, this was really not a good time for me to be without her. I knew she would be the one to help me. I knew she would encourage me to find the humor in the bad. That is one thing that we had in common and were able to share: a biting sense of humor. I knew she could help me if only she was here. But she wasn’t. And I felt as if I had no one.
In actuality, I had so much but didn’t realize until after the fact. I had so many people loving me and helping me and encouraging me, but mom’s glaring absence made the experience so much more painful than it needed to be. I missed her sense of humor. I missed that she would have made me laugh about it. I miss that maybe, just maybe, she would have been proud of how I handled myself in the midst of something truly horrific.
But I never told her that I needed her. Never once. And I think that broke her heart more than anything else. Now that she’s gone, well, that hole can never be filled. Something that could have been so easily reconciled if only she knew how much I needed her. But now, it’s too late. And I’m still stubborn. I don’t need anyone. I shut people out and turn people away and decide that I can do it by myself.
And for the most part, I can do it all by myself. But that’s no way to live. I’d like to think that I’ve learned my lesson – her last lesson to me – that waiting to say what you really mean is a waste. Each moment is precious. We only have right now.
While my earthly loss dictates that it’s too late for us I feel that I have to say it anyway: I need you, mom. I’ve always needed you. And I need you now more than ever. I wish we could have been better at being a mother and daughter. I’m sorry for being so stubborn. But I truly did learn from the best.
Our love was not perfect by any stretch, but I treasure it anyway. You have no idea how much I miss you. More than a million and twelve.