My mother has been dead for two years, today. I woke up at 4:30 remembering all the awful things I ever did or said to her. I prayed for forgiveness for not being a better daughter. I thought about the trendiness of going no contact. I considered how if I could change it, I’d have put up with her drama, her antics, and her awful husband for a few more years if I’d only known she’d be gone so soon. I could have just made her happy. I also admitted that I didn’t have much of a choice without that knowledge.
I’ve been scanning the photos my mother left behind, so I can make an album for each decade. She always wanted to do that, but never had the organization skills. Every picture I see of her young, beautiful, happy, and hopeful breaks my heart. I hate that her life went the way it did. I hate myself for the part I had in it, no matter my lack of options. I frequently imagine how different things could have been, had she been well. I fantasize about what we should have had together. I think about how much she’d have loved her grandkids. I picture her going to the zoo with us, taking them shopping, having sleepovers… making all the wonderful memories I have with my Gramma.
I found a photo of my mother with my brother, when he was almost exactly Thomas’s age. I imagined where she’d have seen herself 38 years later, where I’ll be 38 years from now. I’m not sure I’ve gone a week since her death without envisioning myself alone in my final days, my children not having spoken to me for years. I can’t fathom the pain I would feel if Violet, Scarlett, or Thomas one day wanted nothing to do with me. I quit my career to do things differently. I’m there for every hug, every tantrum, every giggle. I clean obsessively, so my children will grow up in a tidy, healthy home, while simultaneously trying to balance my need for order with their need for fun and freedom. I take them to every doctor’s appointment, soothe every fever, kiss every owie. Sometimes, I cry when I lose my patience or snap at my babies, thinking that this will be the moment they stop loving me. I spend every day of my life with something to prove, praying it’s enough, that I have children who will adore their mother the way they’re supposed to, who will be by her side when she goes. I workout and eat right, with it in the back of my mind how much I desperately hope to live long enough to see my grandkids, while praying my children allow me to do so.
I’m not stupid. I know my mother wasn’t innocent in how her life unfolded. I know that she was abusive, manipulative, and deeply mentally ill. I know I couldn’t heal her. I also know she wanted something so very different. So, for one day, two years from the moment I forever ran out of time to fix things, I just want to hate myself. I want to wallow and weep as the good memories flow through my mind alongside the bad. I’m just so fucking sorry. I don’t want calls from the family who never treated her properly. I certainly don’t want to hear their historical rewrites. I just want to keep scanning my photos while I cry. I just want to watch Twilight and be sad.