Becoming older than my mother

Today is mother’s day.
Six days from now I turn 42.
In six days I will officially be older than my mother ever was. She died at the age of 41.

I am thinking a lot about my mother.

Me with my Mom in Union Square, SF. 1969.

Me with my Mom in Union Square, SF. 1969.

Since I was 15, I felt at odds with all mother-daughter references and have felt there was something fundamentally missing in my attempts to become a woman.

Since I was 15, I have felt a certain kinship with those who have lost parents – and those who never really found them in the first place.

Since I was 15, I have lived in the reality that I have to do most things on my own.

Long before I turned 15, I noticed that I have a kind of fragmented memory, often having a hard time recalling events in my own life. I attribute this to my overwhelming interest in being here in the present, and do not believe it to be the result of any kind of trauma. The only potentially contributing factor is that I have a very tactile memory which is not assisted by having moved a lot as a kid.

Having a tactile memory doesn’t help me when I can’t touch my mom.
Having a fragmented memory doesn’t help me keep her alive in my thoughts.
To me, being forgotten is far more final than simply dying. I can’t stand doing this to my own life, let alone to my mother’s.

I am lucky, though, that the memories my mom deposited into un-erasable parts of my mind are ones in which she encouraged me to live, to seek out what I want, to question those who tell me I can’t do something.

I am very very lucky because I know that the 15 years I did get with my mom were better and more attentive than the longer lifetime so many get to share with just about anyone.

I am lucky because I know that it is possible for a stranger to affect your life with a single moment of contact – and I got 15 years of single moments.

I will always miss my mother. I will never know what it would have been like to grow up and become friends with her. I will always find it sad that she never saw me become more of the person she encouraged me to be. I will forever have a little layer of sorrow on days like today.

And, too, I will always have layer upon layer of all the bright, powerful, challenging, happy, and enriching things that she made possible for me just by helping to make me.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
I wish you could see me now.

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2 responses to “Becoming older than my mother

  1. Cianna… Your blog post particularly strikes a chord with me. As you know, my dad died suddenly with I was 17. I think that the experience of losing of a parent as a child is something that those who have never gone through can never fully understand. Parents are an intrinsic part of who we have become as people and when that influence is taken away from us at such a developmentally crucial age it leaves us with a void in who we are that can never really be filled or completed. Your words and thoughts on this dog-eared day on the calendar really resonate with me. My heart is with you today. Incidentally, I have never seen a picture of your mother. I really see a lot of you in her face.

    • Ryan – Thank you for your comment & your thoughts. I knew that we had a kinship on this and it’s a good reminder to me that I’m not alone even my circle of immediate friends.

      As for resembling my mother, I hear that more as I’ve gotten older. I take it as quite a compliment. Thank you!

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