Wednesday, June 19, 2013

She's Gone

LAST SATURDAY EVENING, I got word that the woman who birthed me had passed away. My sister shared the news and even before she admitted it, I could tell she was running through the same series of emotions as I was. Sad. Not a teary, bleary kind of anguish but a resolved, finalized somberness. 

The grief of mother-loss really took hold in 1970, when at the age of nine, I became old enough to decipher the mother's message. She had more important things to do than cater to my whims and fears and concerns and questions. When friends were tragically killed in a car wreck, there was no explanation. When thunder rattled the house, there was no reassurance. When the kids at school bullied my siblings and me, there was no protection. For reasons I'll never know, the mother chose to close herself off. She must have been in serious emotional pain, but I don't know.

In 1990, at the age of thirty, it was done. The years of trying to break the mother's brittle shell and get her to love her grand kids, to desire a place in my life ended when she walked out the door and off to party with her friends. I might be slow but I usually catch on sooner or later. 

Now, twenty-three years post, there are no tears. I feel a little guilty. Shouldn't I feel something? I don't. 

Well, no. I take that back. I feel sad. It's a sadness that comes from realizing that, at least here on this earth, there will never be a mother-daughter relationship between us. 

This surprises me because it means that deep down in some faraway part of my being, I really was fostering a ray of hope that my mother would some day love me and want to be a part of my life. That maybe age would clear the fog around her priorities and she'd see how important having a daughter, two daughters and a son, was the richest, most rewarding gift she could ever receive. 

But the fog remained until the day she died. She's gone. She's been gone but now she's really gone. It's final. 

Maybe I learned more in her absence than I could have in her presence. But I doubt it. 


  1. Oh Grace. I'm at a loss for what to say. Her best, was definitely short of what anyone would need. If you didn't have hope that things might be different one day, you wouldn't be who you are, and quite frankly you wouldn't have been able to handle everything you have. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Wow, this leaves me amazed. What a story and now it has an ending, though of course your story continues since your mothering is probably wonderful as a result of this, so the story goes on with you and your children.

  3. Heartbreaking. I salute your rising above the loss you experienced all your life-- hug your kids extra, you know how important it is.

  4. Grace,
    My husband had the same kind of Father. He was later diagnosed with Schizophrenia and bi- polar mental illness.
    I hope you can find your way to looking at your Mother with forgiveness.

  5. Oh dear, I can somewhat relate to this, although my mother has not passed away yet and I've heard a little from her since my husband passed away in Dec., but she can't give me what she can't give.

    When they are gone, there is no more chance of some kind of reconciliation. It's over.

    I am sorry for the loss that has affected your whole life and for the loss now.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  6. Dear Grace,

    You are so brave to speak so honestly about the sadness over a loss you have felt your whole life. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Wishing you continued peace and healing.

    Blessings and hugs,

  7. Ah Grace, damn. I want to say something dorky like "she missed out on so much" but then you already know that.

  8. I will say here that which I wrote elsewhere:

    Grace, I read the piece and thought, "if you (Grace) miss anything it would be what could have been". My sorrow is that she didn't recognize that all she needed to do was to love you. It's tragic that lives were nearly ruined, people damaged, but in all of that, lessons learned_ you, loving, kind, a good wife and mother. And I will say this, I think you forgave her for her stupidity and lack thereof, or you might not have come through all of this as you have. (((Grace)))

  9. Grace I have no words for what could I say my friend. I wish you continued peace as you process this part of the path to healing. So many are learning from your story and that is your wonderful legacy!

  10. I am sorry Grace.
    I know it does not replace the childhood or mother daughter relationship that should have been yours but I think some people just dwell so much on their own selfish wants that there is no room for anyone. They blame everyone even their children for the sorrows and unhappiness in their own lives and even more sadly their own children.
    Like you said it is final now so say one last goodbye and let it go.
    Try to remember the strong woman all of these things in your life made you into.I am proud to call you friend. Blessings Grace.

  11. I agree with Kathy: your feelings are what they are. I pray that you'll deal with this loss the way that seems right for you alone and that will bring you the measure of comfort you deserve. You have risen above what must have been, and continues to be, so hurtful. My best wishes to you, my friend.

  12. Oh Grace, I am so, so sorry. I knew when I saw the post title what you were going to say. But I still said, out loud, oh no.

    What a crazy mix of emotions it must be. I can see how one would have that glimmer of hope in the back of their head. Crap, I still ponder the absurd theory that my dad faked his death and is really alive and well somewhere, instead of the reality of cancer taking a good human at the age of 42. And that's the first time I've ever admitted that. But it's hard to accept the truth sometimes, even after years and years. Our minds like to tell us that a different outcome is possible.

    In my amateur opinion, I think the emotions will change over the coming weeks. I hope the sadness and madness don't consume. You can scream and yell on the blog, or in an email, if you want.

    I'll most definitely be thinking of you.

  13. When I first read this new development this afternoon Grace, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness I didn't quite understand so I didn't respond. I felt sad for you and all you missed by never knowing a loving mother like the one I was blessed with.

    But after giving it more thought, as a mother, I realized this final loss is minor compared to all the love and joy that might have been she frittered away your whole life. I would think she must have felt very empty her last years.

    I admire you so for finally being able to let it go for what it was, not your fault...and being able to establish and maintain an accomplished happy life with your husband and children.Kudos to you!

  14. Grace, I am sorry your mother never realized what she was missing. You rose above that and mothered your own children so differently. Whatever feelings you have about her death are OK--I agree with Kathy above, feelings just are. Know that I will be thinking about you.

  15. Courageous words, well spoken from the heart. Wasted opportunities in her life to enjoy her family.
    I feel much the same about my 92 year old father who I currently care for. The worst decision I ever made was to care for him the best decision I ever made was at 19 when I left home. Having a lovely husband and children myself makes me realise how precious family is and how much he and my mum missed in life while they were so busy enjoying themselves.

  16. My thoughts are with you Grace. One of the questions I was going to ask you, regarding the writing process (of your wonderful book), was if writing it helped you process the loss you must have felt as a child and later as an adult. I think we kind of grieve the loss of a "live but absent parent" many times over. Hugs your way.

  17. I know exactly what you are feeling Grace. I thought without the constant presence it would be over. Unfortunately, the empty hole remains.

    'I'm So Vintage" has positive affirmations on Thursdays, they are a good pick me up.

  18. This is an incredibly powerful post - pithy and eloquent. I am sorry for your pain, even if it is over not having pain.

    I am so sorry for the sense of lost opportunity, which can be the most painful loss of all.


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