(June 17, 2012) It is nearly the summer solstice. I love these summer evenings when the sky glows almost unnaturally into the late hours as if lit by a neon city glow just beyond the horizon. When the temperature outside feels the same as my skin, I seem to be melting, dissolving into the warm night air.
This year, though, I greet the passage of time a little reluctantly. Each day takes me further from my mother. When the weather is almost exactly like a day when I remember seeing her, speaking to her, I can imagine we have just been together.
But now summer is here. Mom is gone, and the days don’t even resemble the days that she was in. I can’t imagine us together now. I am writing a new history, and although she is in it, her role is quite different. She is not mother, tyrant. She is not mother, supporter. She is not mother, I-wish-she-would-be-less-self-centered-and-place-more-emphasis-on-family. She is a mother of memories, of tearfully discovered pictures, of family members’ sometimes tiresome monologues. Mom, gone. What is that? I am finding out, day by day.
It’s not like when I was little, and I would think about my mother dying and cry and cry. Just the thought of her being gone registered in my body, a terrible hopeless ache that I couldn’t bear. The reality of her death is a different kind of sadness, one that is at once awful and bearable.
Even when she was sick, I knew I could bear this. I was almost certain I would be asked to. I applauded her efforts at wellness – she never gave up, and I never gave up on her. But intuitively I did not believe she could be well again in this life. I believed she would succumb to the cancer. I don’t feel guilty about this. My thoughts did not make it so, just like many prayed for her and those prayers did not change the outcome, either.
Cancer is a process that does not care one whit about our wishes or our dreams. It is simply a biologic sequence of events that, once taken hold, is extremely difficult to eradicate. Is this tragic, wrong? It seems that way when it is happening, but no. It just is. I have no blame, no anger. Just the sort of acceptance that is needed to face things I cannot change.