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Surfacing. May 7, 2009

Posted by Julie Momster in Uncategorized.
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My first Mother’s Day is fast approaching. For years now, I have – if not “dreaded” – at least tried to avoid most Mother’s Day festivities. It’s been like pouring salt and sulfuric acid into a gaping, open wound ever since my mom died. I’m sincerely hoping that it will get better, now that I have my daughter – although I can guarantee I will be a snot-covered weepy mess the entire day, drowning in unearthed memories and fresh memories in the making.

Have I ever talked about my mom? I try not to, and due mainly to my innate ability to supress unpleasant experiences, I’ve been able to avoid it almost completely. It’s not that I didn’t love her. To be honest, when I was a child she was my whole world. And as much as I adore my father, until she died he was always more of a supporting actor and our family’s world-class chef.

I always thought she was beautiful, but don’t all little girls think their moms are as gorgeous as movie stars? I loved her hands, and her hugs and kisses, I loved when she told me to leave her alone so she could smoke a cigarette in her living room (even though I would sneak up and snuggle by her legs all the same). She was human, and she had her faults – but I will never forget the things she gave up for me, and all the things she gave back to me.

She was an active participant with my PTA and Girl Scout troops, she gave up drinking for me, she taught me to call K-Mart “Bl0omingdale’s” (or “Bloomie’s”, as my 3-year-old self would call it). When I was 2 and lost my favorite blanket in NYC, she took me to Macy’s to get a new one. Even though she swore she couldn’t sing, she still had a lullaby to rock me to sleep with – a lullaby that I sing to my daughter now. We had a night-time ritual that involved teaching my stuffed cat, Kate, to fly across the room, and a plethora of hugs and kisses I could never get enough of.

She sent me on a vacation to visit family in Florida the summer before I went to middle school – almost entirely by myself. It was just myself and the great-grandma I was named after. And my mom went to Missouri to help my Aunt Sue finalize her divorce.

4 days into the trip, I woke up – happy with plans to go to the beach and spend time with my cousins. My Aunt Sue greeted me when I woke up by telling me I needed to call my father.

‘Can’t it wait?’

But it couldn’t.

My father asking me to be strong, he needed me to be strong. But I was only 11 years old. I wasn’t strong, I didn’t know what was happening.

They simplified it, and told me it was a stroke that killed her. In reality it was a brain aneurysm, and she died almost instantly. I still can’t hear “aneurysm” referenced without a tightening in my chest.

The police and paramedics arrived while they were still on the phone with the dispatcher. But she was gone. There was no notice, no warning aside from a headache she’s been complaining of: “When I die, put on my tombstone ‘I Told You My Head Hurt'” – only she never knew how right she was. She was my world, and I was hers – her last words before partinf from my aunt was that my aunt “gets to see my baby, and I don’t.”

I barely remember the service, or any of the subsequent months. I remember picking up a bottle of Vodka at the ripe age of 12 to deal with feelings I had no name for. I continued to forget. I continued through alcohol, cocaine, X, self-mutilation, promisicuity, morphine, oxycontin, vicodin to try and deal with things I was never prepared to handle. I eventually came to the point when you realize that trying to hurt myself would only make things worse, and the look on my dad’s face as I was wasting away told me that this is not what my parents wanted for me. She wanted more from me than that, I only wish she had been able to tell me so.

I would give anything in this world to have seen her again, one last hug, one last kiss, one last stuffed toy flying across the room, one last yell, one last exasperated sigh, one last off-key song, one last anything.

It’s been 14 years, and it never really gets easier. You become more accustomed to the gaping hole, but it never fully heals. You learn to stop turning your head when you think you hear their voice, but you never fully forget the sound once you hear the same resonance. Your memories become faded, and fuzzy, and some are lost all together. But the feeling of love – undying, never-ending, unconditional love – is always there. Right below the surface.



1. mona - May 7, 2009

I’m sorry you had to go through that at such a young age. My father died when I was 10 and that last paragraph you wrote is so true, it’s haunting.

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