Have you ever found yourself wondering? Maybe just wondering about your life, who you are, and the circumstances leading up to them. What if just a few elements of your life were different? Could you say that beyond a shadow of a doubt you would still be the same person, or choose the same mate─ or even the same job?
Last year I was presented with a very difficult decision, a very conflicted one. My mother lay dying in a hospital bed with cancer. The doctor had given her weeks, maybe less to live. My brother had reached out to me to let me know that I should see her─ if I wanted to. It was an odd choice for me, not knowing if I should visit or just let her slip away.
Before you judge, let me explain.
My mother had done everything in her power to both mentally and physically torture me as a child. I suspect it was because I reminded her so much of the man she hated, and of a past she wanted to forget. I was a daily reminder of that choice she made in her teens. She was also a diagnosed, unmedicated bipolar. Which meant I never knew what I would come home to. Outside was my refuge, books were my home, and writing was my freedom.
I’d long wondered if none of these things had occurred in my youth, would I have the drive that I do now to pursue writing as much as I do. Would I have found the love for the paranormal, spooky, and otherworldly so easily?
If it was one thing I took away from my childhood, it was that while it was all extremely traumatic, the few things that weren’t were memorable.
In the end, I did choose to visit her. I brought my daughter along. We stayed for a few hours and watched shows, made small talk over things and steered the conversation mostly toward my daughter and life. It struck me as odd, this now feeble woman, had held such power over me. It was all very confusing, but I felt the right thing to do was to stay for a while.
The nurse entered to let us know that she would be changing the sheets and getting my mother ready for bed. By now my little girl was starting to get restless and wanted to go home. I didn’t know that it would be the last time I would see her, but I suspected it. I don’t know what moved me at the moment, but I felt it strongly as I went to leave from the room. I turned back, smiled at her and said, “I love you, mom.” It was the first time I had said that in nearly a decade. My daughter turned back and called, “I hope that you feel better soon.”
A week later, she passed away.
I’m still to this day mourning that. Not because I mourn her, but mourn what could have been between us. It sounds heartless and callous to say, especially if you weren’t there with her growing up.
I mourn every lost moment she could have chosen to accept me into her life. I mourn every slap, kick, and choke─ and wish it had been replaced with hugs, laughter, and love.
I mourn the hurtful words meant to break me down and wish it would have been replaced with encouragement.
I grew to hate myself more than you could imagine. I isolated myself, pushed everyone away, went in and out of relationships and always was convinced I was never good enough. It took years of counseling and therapy to learn that I was worth so much more than I believed.
A year is not enough to mourn the death of another life. But it is enough time to realize that I’m able to really enjoy the important things. Especially telling my daughter how loved, important, and special she is. When I look at her, I couldn’t even imagine doing a tenth of what my mother did to me to her. Instead, it makes me hold her closer.
I may never be normal or understand when people complain about their family, but I never hold it against them. After all, we can’t choose family.
I’ve come a long way since that scared little girl, but those scars run deep. One thing I do know for sure is that even though I experienced what I did and it was awful, it made me who I am today. And I’m learning to discover and nurture that person with each passing day.
Just some Sunday musings. Love yourself, everyone. ❤