Today marks 14 years since my mother, Sheila, shuffled into memory. In that time I’ve wondered and complained, I’ve gnashed proverbial teeth and pondered the pain of losing her.
Over time I came to peace with it, at least as much as can be, and am grateful now for the love I knew.
Blunting things by telling myself that others have lost too acts as a kind of shield, permitting you not to feel too much pain. Pain from a loss that grows only more distant each day that I remember it.
But there’s a longing in my heart that can never be filled. Her death predates my first daughter’s birth by seven years. My wife never knew her, even for a passing moment. To them she will only ever be snapshots and stories, remembered with a smile that leads too quickly to tears.
My youngest bears her monicker as her middle name. For quite some time I was conflicted that neither daughter shared her name as their first. As time goes, I’m more glad that I didn’t saddle either with the weight of living up to a name that will only ever be an abstract. Instead I look for the things that remind me of her.
There are many to list, but that’s not the point of this post.
I live each day with the wish I had held my mom more. That I had shown her the gratitude she deserved more openly. That I had listened to her, and followed a few more of my dreams.
She always praised and pushed me for my art. Something I’ve since turned my back on, just as I found a footing with it. It wasn’t a career as an illustrator, but it was close to it.
I’m not saying I regret where I am. I’ve made a good life of it, and who knows where I’ll end up yet?
It’s only that even fourteen years later, when I think of her, I feel unmoored. There are so many ways her counsel would help. Her wisdom is only harder to hear in the growing cacophony of life.
Maybe I just don’t allow myself enough quiet time to hear it. Maybe that’s the problem we all have; we’ve filled every possible moment with noise so we can’t hear what’s still there on the edge of perception. Our vision has so many screens in it that we can’t read the signs that once were so clear.
Or maybe I’m afraid of what she’s saying. Maybe I know that there’s some part of this equation that doesn’t balance right and she can see it because her vantage point grants her a perspective I just don’t have.
I wish I could honestly make some promise that I’ll learn to quiet my mind and listen more. I wish I knew what could bring her voice back to me.
Because as old as I am and as strong as I wish I am, her baby boy is what I’ll always be.
I miss you, Mom. I always will. Let this little remembrance find its way, so you can know your son still thinks of you.