Today would be my mother’s birthday. She died more than twenty years ago, so it’s not a very momentous or painful day. It’s just a date, really. Still, I found myself thinking of her intently this last week.
She left at a very marked moment in my life: the week I had my first period. She had been very ill for a long time. Even though it was only mentioned to us in the inevitable last days that she would die, it was very clear to me long before that. There was release in her death, it removed that sense of foreboding that had accompanied me throughout my childhood. Still, the subsequent road to adulthood, hard enough in itself, was bumpy for me.
Yet, now it has been so long ago, I do not remember her sickness and the loss so much. I feel very lucky to have known a mother in those crucial early years of my life. Because that is exactly what she was: someone who lovingly gave of herself in the service of others. It makes such a difference to have known that. The only thing that makes me sad is not having known her better. Just when she could have taught me more, about love and life, she was gone. Luckily, I have every reason to expect to be around far longer with my children, but I will not have her good example to follow for the rest of journey. From now on, I will have to move on without a template or touchstone. It daunts me bit, but I’m sure to be alright, because I have a strong basis to work from. There are children born everyday who will never know what I had. It is far better to have been loved and lose it, than never knowing that love at all. Gratitude prevails.
My mother’s ashes were scattered soon after her death on a very generic cemetery. We lived there at the time, but it is not a place we ever visited. I never felt she was there still. We hardly speak of her in the family. For some it is too painful, for most others too long ago. My husband and children have never known her. Apart from a photograph in my living room, there is no tangible place I could remember her. So I remember her here, and promise to pay it forward.