A Letter to my Mother

Four years ago, I lost my mother to cancer: lung that metastasized to her brain and then throughout her body. She didn’t have health insurance and thankfully the hospice workers found a grant for treatment, though really it was always hopeless. It was horrible, but fast. To this day, I still donate money to the local hospice that cared for her and made her last months what she would want them to be. Anyway, I’ve waffled back and forth on whether or not to post this because it feels so raw really, but this is my blog where I can let these sort of things out. I’m a very private person, but I do need to release emotion sometimes, otherwise I might just explode (or worse, implode).

A few days ago was the anniversary of her death and it *almost* slipped by me, had I not found an old calendar in some paper things this weekend.

This was always meant to be the year that I found my happiness, but sometimes happiness comes in letting some things go. In forgiveness. In moving on and remembering the more beautiful parts of something. So I thought I’d write my mom a letter. We used to do that when I was in college because she didn’t have a phone. I share this with you in the hopes that you can find good things, forgiveness, and acceptance in someone in your life, too.

_______

Dear Mom,

I owe you somewhat of an apology. I’ve spent much of my life focusing on the negative things about our relationship and my childhood and not focusing enough really on what a truly good soul you had and what a beautiful woman you were before life wore you down. I guess I see now how hard things were for you, every day.

You were always the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Somewhere I have pictures of you and you looked liked an angel. You were a gifted artist. Grandma still has your paintings hanging on her walls. You were a fantastic gardener and could grow anything. Sadly, I am neither an artist or a gardener and my looks pale in comparison to yours. But every now and then, I see you in myself in the mirror.

I have a few really good memories I want to thank you for. Thank you for taking me to the candy store on the corner when we lived by ourselves when I was three. These are my earliest memories of you. You would hand me a bunch of change and I’d get a handful of candies. My favorites were those red penny candies. And smarties. I loved smarties. Thank you for the collection of Disney records. To this day, I love the songs from Robin Hood so, so much. Thank you for letting me stay up to watch the Incredible Hulk while I hid behind the couch. I know that you knew I was there, but you let me watch and then sneak to bed. Thank you for not yelling at me when I came home with a bloody nose in seventh grade after my first girl fight over a boy. Thank you (not really) for calling everyone in the family and telling them when I got my first period. I died. Thank you for letting me get the Goober mixed peanut butter and jelly that one time when we had absolutely no money because I really, really wanted it. Thank you for staying in a horrible, abusive relationship so that I could be in the best school and have a place to sleep. Thank you (sort of) for letting me always get a puppy even though we ended up having to give them away. The temporary love was always welcome. Thank you for picking raspberries with me in the backyard and not making me eat that stuff you called zucchini pie.

Thank you for telling me “It hurts to be beautiful.” It totally does.

Thank you for making me as smart as I am. You should get at least half of the credit.

Thank you for never, ever letting my stepfather hit me with that belt.

Thank you for giving me to grandma on the weekends and letting me having a temporary stable environment. Thank goodness there were weekends and I had somewhere to go. Thank you for giving me to her, permanently, when I was fourteen.

And now, forgiveness. I forgive you, mom, for not showing me how much you loved me. I forgive you for not being a good mother. I mean, you were seventeen when you had me. I forgive you for the ugly things you spewed at me which were probably said in frustration. I forgive you for choosing the string of shitty men you did (and for giving me a better example of what NOT to do.)  I forgive you for the drugs and the drinking and everything that was such a mess. I forgive all of the violence and the hate. I forgive you for giving me the chip on my shoulder that creeps up on me sometimes and scares me that I, too, will be terrible at life and things and mothering or relationships. I forgive you for the way I found out about Santa. I forgive you for neglecting your kids while you were busy trying to forget your life. I somehow get this better now.

I need to apologize too for my ego. I was always planning on leaving you and my sisters, that place, going to college, doing better, and turning down my nose at everything. I’m sorry I didn’t invite you to any of the big things in my life for fear of the drama that would ensue. I could have tried a little more. I’m sorry that we never really had a good relationship. I’m sorry you’ll never know the people in my life or see the big job I have now.

The last thing I said to you was that I loved you and I promised I would watch out for gram. I am still keeping that one. Honest.

I love you, mom, and miss you. Mostly, I miss what I think we could have become as mother and daughter. And what I could have shared with you. But, I’m happy that as I get older and wiser, I can remember the good things now and the bad things get fuzzy. Funny that.

Love,

Me

 

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5 Responses to “A Letter to my Mother”

  1. Rad Cocker says:

    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: what might have been.” — Whittier

    All parent-child relationships are complex. I would posit same-sex parent-child relationships are more so. Resentments are bound to build on both sides in even the best of these, which yours (as you said) was not.

    Perhaps our tendency to forget the resentments and focus on the good things is a fundamental survival mechanism. Perhaps it just feels better to do that. Ample reason to do so, either way.

  2. Wine Librarian says:

    I am okay with surviving :) Thriving might be good eventually.

  3. BrewingLibMan says:

    I’ve been reminded several times recently how important forgiveness is to emotional and psychological health, but thanks for another reminder. I lost both of my parents to cancer in the span of a few months (lung for my mother, colon for my father), so I understand how critical hospice services are for the care of loved ones (and the sanity of those who love them). My contributions to cancer research will be supplemented by contributions to hospice organizations.

    Thank you for sharing, important stuff here.

  4. Lou Lange says:

    That was a very touching letter. It shows how you took control of your life and made good out of bad. You did your very best to keep things going with your mom and gramm. You should be proud of yourself. I know I am.

  5. Corin says:

    Hey

    I just discovered your photos and your blog through Emily Clasper. What a first blog lost to read! Thank you for sharing. Iost both my parents over the period of 5 years and I recently wrote on my blog about my love of tea and my mum.

    It’s good to remember these things and share :-) . Happy I have found your blog. :-)

    Corin