There is really no word to describe the blow that comes in the rare moments when I realize my mother would have been a mere 42 years old today. Quite like witnessing a terrible tragedy or going through something so magnificent and personal that no one else on Earth could understand, going through life without such a significant piece of yourself is something you can never let go of. I was only ten years old when she passed away, and sometimes it feels like it only happened an hour ago, while other times I feel like I’ve lived a hundred lives since seeing the face that looks so much like my own.
I don’t know where she is, or what world she is in after death, but I find myself wishing that I could know her lately. I remember some things, of course, like her fiery attitude and persistence in giving the four of us all that she could as a single mother. It’s strange to hear people whom I barely know tell me that she gave me her ferocious nature, small on the outside but tenacious on the inside. I wish I could have known that person.
I wish my mother could hug me tight when my heart is broken in the comforting way that only a mother is capable of. I wish she could see my twin sister and how beautiful she is despite the incredible obstacles I have watched her face. I wish she could meet her granddaughter, but only after telling my younger brother what she tParehinks of him for having a baby at barely twenty years old and making her a 41-year-old grandma.
I long to have more of my mother than the withering old photographs and the tiny, fleeting memories of silly things like getting in trouble for eating too much chocolate pudding and giving my younger brothers wedgies. I often wonder what my mother could have taught me if she was still here; I wonder what life lessons I’m missing out on that other women received and if she’s watching over all of us and the confused lives we lead.
I wonder if she could have convinced me to leave the boy who caused me so many tears or if she could have helped my father during the struggle of having twin teenagers with fierce attitudes and smart mouths. Sometimes I even think life might have turned out the exact same, just with my mother’s loving and helping hand to guide us through it all and make it a little easier.
Of course, I wish I could have said goodbye, and given one big hug before she had to go. I wish my mother’s life could have ended in a peaceful, complacent place, rather than amidst the hard times she was going through before that last day.
I can picture her beaming at our college graduation if she could have been there in the stands, hearing our names being called one right after the other. I know she would have cheered like hell. I can see our weddings in the future, missing one essential person, a somber memory floating around amongst a happy celebration. I find myself needlessly hoping that I don’t die before my children are ready, as I know the suffering and loss that ensues from such a confusing event in a young life.
I just hope that wherever she is, she has a frosty sweet tea and even a cigarette, although we nagged her incessantly about smoking while she was here. I hope she’s sitting on a porch with the Mississippi sun on her back, listening to Usher and covering her ears at the sign of any risky lyric while encouraging us to do the same. I hope she’s in that tranquil, happy state that I remember loving with all my heart, the one that only came around every so often. Most of all, however, I hope she has the peace she never quite found here on Earth, and I hope she is smiling knowing all of her children will take her wherever they go.