Angry No More

As I do every year on this date (usually a couple of weeks before August 19th actually), I find myself in a time of reflection regarding the loss of my mom. That’s not to say that I don’t think about her other times through the year, but the weeks leading up to her birthday, my mind wanders to her effortlessly.

When preparing to write this post, I looked back at what I wrote in 2019 about my sadness & regret when I thought about what could have been with her but this year something new for me has magically appeared.  I have no idea when it happened but what is clear to me today is that my views have evolved in the past 3 years regarding my mom, and it feels pretty great.

Mom passed away in 1987 when she was 42 and I was 23 years old, so it took me 35 years to get here, maybe I’m just a slow learner, I don’t know, but that’s the funny thing about grief, there is no time frame or road map that outlines the grieving process. And yes, that’s much too young to a) pass away and b) to lose your mom but that’s the hand that was dealt to my brothers and I. When she passed away, our world quite literally was altered, and we entered into a new world for which we were barely prepared. Fast forward to this year – I turned the ripe old age of 50 something and when August rolled around for the first time, I realized that I’m no longer angry at her. Wow, what a journey it has been getting to this point but here I am finally!

7-8 years ago (maybe more), out of the blue I received a phone call from a man that I remember from my high school days.  This man was my brothers boxing coach and to be honest I remembered him, but I didn’t realize that he was good friends with our mom.  Anyway, this compassionate man has gone through his own troubling journey, but he felt compelled to reach out to me.  He now helps minister or coach people in prison who battle addictions and for some reason, he felt that we needed to hear from someone who knew and cared about her. He told me that our mom loved the 3 of us more than anything. He said that she felt she had let us down at times but that her fierce love for us was something that he knew was always foremost in her thoughts and he believed that I needed to hear that from someone who she confided in regarding her fears and her deepest thoughts. He said that even in her darkest times, she never wavered in her love for us, her pride in my brothers and me and her deep desire to see the 3 of us succeed in life.  His hope was that we would get some peace from this knowledge. I told him at the time, that I was really angry at her for giving up and not caring enough to fight her demons if not for herself, for us.  I told him that during one of my last conversations with her she told me that she just wanted to see us grow up enough to be self-sufficient and then she was ok with passing away. What I took away from this conversation with him was maybe that was her way of letting us fly free without the worry or baggage of her issues weighing us down. At the time, I didn’t buy it, but I said that I would give that theory some thought (which I didn’t consciously do until 2019, which is when the regret settled in wishing for what could have been with my mom).  

Back to my point, I find myself no longer angry at my mom for “giving up” or for not trying hard enough to fight for herself, I felt cheated out of time with her, but I realize that’s more about me and had nothing at all to do with her. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my heart, believe me when I say that this has been a hard-fought victory for me.  Am I sad that she is gone? Absolutely, I feel like I have a hole in my heart.  Am I sad that she isn’t alive to see her grandkids and great grandkids?  Absolutely, but I take comfort in knowing that she is smiling down at them from above and laughing at how much they are like me and my brothers (she always said she hoped we would have kids just like us).  What I am left with now is the sense that what I got from my mom was my ability to love, I got her sense of humour, her passion for helping others, her resilience and optimism, her stubbornness, her ability to see and accept people for who they are, and I also got her ability to struggle and overcome sometimes against seemingly unsurmountable challenges or hardships. These are all traits that have been there all along and helped guide me through my life. I am now able to see that we were the centre of her world, and everything she did (including ultimately letting go) was for my brothers and me. She wasn’t selfish, in fact she was powerful and self-less. I now feel her presence in a way that I never have, even when she was alive.

Mom, It would give me so much joy to have you here now. But we can’t always have what we want so I hope you can hear me when I say that I am finally content with the time we had together. Mom, just know that I love you with all my heart and I am so sorry for wasting 35 years being mad at you, I know you wouldn’t have wanted me to hold on to that resentment for so long. Today, all I feel is love and compassion for you. I know how hard you fought for us while you were alive. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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