Sometimes I feel like a motherless child….
Life without my mom has become an interesting journey. The entire time my mother’s health was failing I never cried. I had been determined to put on my big-girl pants and muddle through her last years being her advocate and helping her feel safe and secure in the nursing home where she was staying, even if that meant playing along with her more favorable delusions, while distracting her from her fearful ones. When she passed away and it was appropriate for me to cry, I could not. I was still on “hyper-advocate patrol,” making sure her ceremony was worthy of her, being the host at her repast, then stoic at her burial.
After that, there was NOTHING, nothing but a hole. I was a motherless child, “a boat without a rudder”. Was I supposed to become the grownup, now? It’s an interesting idea. As the youngest sibling, I was and will always be “the baby,” and in some respects, I liked being the baby. I had more freedom, was a tad more favored and dealt with less responsibility than my older sisters. Yet, on the day my mom passed away, oddly enough I was the only one there, alone with the hospice priest while mom received her last rites. And I still did not cry. My immediate family joined me, and as mom took her last breath, I was numb, but not hysterical, or even upset.
Shortly afterwards it hit me, like a ton of bricks; I finally immersed myself in sorrow, pulled the bedcovers over my head and let it all go. I didn’t need to worry about embarrassing her or disappointing her anymore. I had used my mom as an excuse for so many years, choosing a life she would approve of, not necessarily the one I dreamed about. I treated her as if she were the baby and I kept my innermost feelings to myself. The day I finally cried was the day I officially let her go and I became an adult. Not an adult child, simply an adult. And I realized that this is exactly what she wanted me to do.
A few weeks ago I discovered a message from her within a book called THE WAR OF ART. I had purchased it many months ago, so far back I can’t even remember when I last read it. I randomly opened the book to a page that had one of my mom’s clothing labels inside; clear as day it read: ELEANOR CAPRISTO. We labeled her clothes when she went into the nursing home and I still have no idea how that tiny label could have gotten in the pages of this book, or even when. But the message on the page was clear and this is what was printed; “The moment an artist turns pro is as epochal as the birth of a first child; with one stroke everything changes.”
My mom sent me a message that it is time for me to fly, solo. It still sucks being without her and every now and then the reality surfaces, but I believe that when our loved ones pass over, it is a way for us to come to terms with our own death. When that happens, seeing my mother again will be a sweet, sweet reward.