When did this life start? When did this life of taking no bull shit or help from anyone begin, exactly? I try to think back to the day when I stopped asking anyone for help. The day when I chose to fail at things rather than ask anyone for a hand because that was the only way I was going to learn from my mistakes. You would think that day may have been the day I lost my mother, when I realized that no one was there to hold my hand anymore. The day she was taken from me regardless of how much she had decided she had really wanted to stay with me.
But no, it was before that. Maybe it was 15 months prior, the day I found out she was going to die of cancer…the day I was forced to finally envision my life without her. Regardless of how well she took care of herself…no fried foods or soda…you have to steam your vegetables to retain the vitamins…and no more drinking or smoking doesn’t save you from breast cancer. But no, that wasn’t it either.
That only reminds me of the afternoon when my mother and I were out walking the dog in Brooklyn, a time when we were just chatting. She was telling me about a conversation she had recently had with my younger brother during which time he had told her how unfair she was being by becoming close to me when after all, because my mother was 38 years older than me, she was obviously going to one day die while I was still young so she shouldn’t become good friends with me because if she did, then one day I was going to be really sad. Wow! I was only 15 years old at the time and that was the first time that it really became a reality for me that one day, my mother was going to die and leave me alone in this world to fend for myself. I better get prepared for that day…though all I knew how to do at the time was cry.
I guess you could say that I had a great mom. Though it wasn’t just that…she was an amazing woman. She was someone you just wanted to be around…someone who’s company I could never get enough of. She used to make me want to be a better person…someone who she might want to just be with. She was an artist who went back to school when I was a kid for her bachelors in fine arts and then eventually her masters. She went part time and it never conflicted with her being able to totally be there for my brother and I for whatever we needed. And maybe during those next 15 years, I probably came up with a bunch of silly reasons or excuses to spend the day with my mother though i felt as though they were all worth it. I remember each year, on her birthday, June 21st, I’d play hooky from school or from whatever job I had at the time to spend the day with her. One year we went to Ellis Island (I still have framed the photo I had taken of us that day)…another year, we spent the day at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (it was so cool…http://www.tenement.org/)…another year we explored Roosevelt Island (I’ve always been convinced that the old abandoned institution there was haunted and that day I tried to prove it)…another year she had a chat with Woody Allen at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum…and another year we went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding and we laughed and laughed. It didn’t matter what we did, we were just together.
So now it’s almost 10 years since I lost her and this Sunday, the whole world will be celebrating Father’s Day while I’ll be wishing I could just play hooky from life and spend the day with one of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing…but can’t. It never gets easier…missing someone like her…she was not just a person who was my mother…someone who raised me and taught me my values and from whom I inherited her genes…she was a force…a rock…someone who taught me how to take care of myself regardless of the obstacles that keep being put in my way. Though she will always be the chink in my armor…first it was just the thought of losing her that would break me down into tears…now it’s any one of the many memories of her that does it. I am a grown woman who could sit down and cry over my mother at anytime because, you know what, it doesn’t get easier! It still hurts as much today as it did when I lost her. And I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me or to cry for me but instead just understand that there are just so many things that need to happen in order to become who we become…some planned and some not so planned. And regardless of how sad I might feel right now, I would not change any of them.