Monday, May 28, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I’ve been thinking about my mom more than usual lately. Impending Mother’s Day? The anniversary of her death? Perhaps. I think it’s more that I always miss her a little more when I’m thinking about Big Things. Going back to work has been a huge adjustment for me (ha-I say that it in the past tense as though I’m adjusted—I assure you, I’m not!). And even though I’ve been without it for going on twelve years, I’ve been craving her guidance and wisdom to talk me through this process. What I wouldn’t give to pick up the phone and ask What would YOU do, Mom? What do YOU think?
But twelve years is a long time. I’m no longer the young adult I was when she last saw me, just starting out in my career, eager to take on a new relationship and New York City and my first apartment in Brooklyn. More than a decade later I have a wonderful partner, many grey hairs, a thicker middle, four ebullient children and a house in the New Jersey suburbs.
I don’t think she would even recognize me.
I’m still me, of course. And in my heart, I’m still her little girl. And I still so badly want to pick up that phone and call her, it makes my eyes sting.
I see her face dancing around in the faces of my children. All of them except Harry have her steely blue eyes. But they all have her round face and soft, pink cheeks and when Ellie and Lucy smile, I so often see my mom grinning back at me that it can take my breath away. In tiny ways, she’s here. But of course, she is not.
What do you think Mom would say to me, right now, about all of this, if she were here? I asked my dad the other day. We chatted via phone about various “light” topics, including “work/life balance” (cough, cough—as if such a thing exists).
He was quiet for a long time. And then:
“I think she would say that nothing is perfect. That it’s never going to be perfect.”
For a minute, I felt like I couldn't breathe.
Because he was right. It is never going to be perfect. And it's exactly (what I think) she would have said. It was both eerie and wonderful hearing to hear those words come from my father, someone who had once known her so well. But we both squint to think of what she'd say, what she'd make of the lives we lead now. We can only speculate.
"It's never going to be perfect."
That was it. It was as if my mom was sitting across the table from me in a coffee shop, saying the words herself.
“Live your life, live your life, live your life,” said the very wise Maurice Sendak, who we also lost this week. So simple. And such the perfect bookend to another beautiful, true and yes, rather melancholy quote that I posted earlier this week: "I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more."
We hold onto the sweet memories of those who have left us and hope they are proud of the things we do without them, of the decisions we make without their counsel. I’d like to think I knew my mother so well that I instinctually know what she would advise me to do. But like I said, I’m so far from the person I was when she last knew me, that sometimes I wonder. And that terrifies me. The few pictures I have of her, dotted throughout the house, together in Amsterdam in 1999, of her and my stepfather on vacation in Japan in 1997, they feel like images from from a previous life. They are.
But of that much romanticized motherly advice? Who am I kidding? Did I always do what she told me to do? Was her way always best? Of course not. It’s so easy to canonize someone who is no longer here to make mistakes or give advice you don’t agree with (because if they are here you at least have the choice to disagree). Instead, I just have this gaping question mark.
What would Mom say?
So I do what Mr. Sendak says to do. I live my life. My wonderful little life that I hope (and think) she would be proud of.
But I still miss her.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
It was a story I would ask my mother to recall over and over again: "Tell me about the time you realized I could read."