The permanence of death is a heartbreak that is uncomparable to any other kind of emotional agony endured in a failing love affair. When my Aunt had confirmed over the phone that my mother had unexpectedly passed away, it was as if my body was catapulted through a windshield, with shards of glass puncturing nevers all along the landscaping of my bare flesh.
My thoughts were disorientated in a slumber of drunkenness, I had last seen my mom on Christmas day, three weeks beforehand, she had greeted me with open arms and a kiss on the forehead. Now, I don’t even have the opportunity to hug her “hello”, not to mention the stark reality that I didn’t have the chance to say a proper goodbye.
I’ll never get to tell her “I love you” in person, a fact that follows me with each street I cross, I will never not be the girl who lost her mother too young, barely at the precipice of 21 years of age.
My mother was ill, she suffered from extreme OCD, alzheimer’s, depression and coped with her suffering by submerging herself to the bottom of a bottle and packs of Marlboro gold lights.
I spent most of my upbringing resenting her for this, pangs of jealousy would erupt inside of me whenever I ran into girls from school having lunch or even worse, homecoming dress shopping with their mom.
That wasn’t something my mom was capable of doing and for the longest time I thought her illness was a reflection of how she felt towards me, I thought it meant I was doomed to being unlovable.
If I’m being entirely honest with myself, most of my not-thought-through decisions/relationships/reckless behavior is because I so badly wanted to be affirmed, I longed desperately to be loved.
It took a while after my mom’s passing to come to the realization that I was her world, and that just because at times she wasn’t emotionally, physically and mentally capable, it didn’t mean she loved me less as a daughter.
From how she spoke of me, one might actually mistaken me for an Olympic gold medalist or a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. I am her blood, sweat and tears and I wish I could’ve been more appreciative of her to hear in the murmurs of her ear drums.
When someone dear to you passes away, you are soon bombarded into a whirlwind of condolences. For me, that was the hardest part of losing my mom. The whispers and gossip my very presence ignited not only bothered me but made me not want to leave my house for months on end.
I became a literal elephant in the room. Death itself, is a discomforting topic that puts most people on edge because it highlights that we all are going to die and it can happen at any given moment. We are human, and can fantasize about immortality as much as we want but that won’t be the outcome.
Death is imminent and because so, other people’s reactions to the news can actually sometimes make the grieving process worse.
There are adequate ways of politely giving someone in mourning condolences such as: not shaming the person in grieving for not having a certain emotional response that is “expected”, if the deceased suffered from an illness of any sort to not constantly bring that up and instead focus on positive memories had with that person (family members are already aware of the illness so why make that the focal point of the whole existence of the person who is now gone), don’t whine and complain to a family member if you disagree with how they are mourning or don’t like the arrangements of the funeral and burial (have some goddamn respect), and lastly don’t get offended if a mourning family member doesn’t want to talk about the death.
I understand that death is a topic that makes people uncomfortable but the amount of judgement I faced because my mother had issues with alcohol and mental illness was not only disrespectful but it was emotionally brutalizing.
Mourning is a process that lasts as long as it takes, and some days I’m beyond golden, other times, I hear a Shania Twain song in my local CVS and I have an emotional breakdown because my mom and I used to have dance parties in our kitchen to Man! I feel Like A Woman after she picked me up from school.
My mother was more than an alcoholic who was ill and all I want is for her to be remembered for her unfiltered, bubbly, easily excitable and most of all for how she loved without asking for love in return.