It takes strength to grieve. I have been mourning my mom’s death slowly and will probably continue to do so for the rest of my life.
How much could you have said had you know that this hour and this minute is when you will lose your mom?
Most of us don’t or didn’t have the luxury. I didn’t.
My mom and I weren’t best friends. We were friendly most of the time, disconnected emotionally and interdependent functionally all at the same time. The days before her passing, we communicated mostly with my daughter as the focal point.
There are many “how much I wish I had xxx”, but life is such that my mother entered retirement while I am raising a young child. I didn’t have the energy to devote much time to reconnect with her. We were always there for each other, to open each other’s mail or to resolve a crisis. We might not like each other all the time, but we were attached at heart.
The week of her death, I was about to talk to her on a genogram and work with her own family history for my lifecycle development workshop. I thought about expressing more gratitude and affection to her during that, understanding more and more how the systematic oppression of our gender role has contributed to the bitterness and negativity that she and many other women have suffered from. The truth is, even if I had gotten to all that this week before she passed away, it would probably be a sentence or two of affection from me. She, on the other hand, uncomfortable with too much emotional intimacy, would simply have said thanks and let it move onto another topic. And it would be another while before we have anything remotely heart to heart. That would not have been somewhat comforting for me, but ultimately for her, life would largely remain the same.
This life has not been kind to her. She experienced much physical and emotional suffering. All her educational and professional potentials were taken away by political and economic turmoils in China. As a woman, and a really smart one, she didn’t realize her full potentials that I knew she had. Her spirit has been beaten down by the chauvinism she grew up with and was surrounded with most of her life. She did not take up my suggestion to go back to school. I knew she could have done it. But I also understand she was tired after working so hard for the first half of her life and deserved to take it easy in a physically more comfortable life.
There have been moments of crisis in her life that I believe might have been a point for growth and possible reconnection for us. But I was too immature and my mom too closed up in her armor for that to happen. It is okay. It is all okay. Death has a way to do away with the ego of the dead as well as of the living, at least the part of our ego that had us at odds with the dead. I know her spirit and energy are in a more relaxed place. It is maybe in the rustle of the trees outside my window at this moment.
Mom, I know at times we didn’t get along too well. I was too self-involved with differentiating myself from you to truly understand the intimacy that could have been nourishing. But I don’t want to blame anyone including myself. As you said, sometimes life has a way of making decisions for us. I never agreed with your determinism but I have to respect how you faced bravely whatever life threw at you. And you did it with the stoicism you had used to survive all the challenges in your life.
So now we must focus on the present, with you free to roam about. You are free from the panic, stress, and fear that life had accumulated in you. No one can stop you from putting your energy exactly where it deserves, where it feels most natural and fulfilling for you. You now finally will know no one is better or worse than you, and you don’t need anyone but want everyone. All that is left and floating around you and within you is love.
I love you. Mom. Infuse the world with your raucous laughter and brave spirit, guide me in mine.