A weird thing happened the other day. I thought, “I should call mom and tell her about that.” And then I remembered, “Oh, yeah. Can’t do that,” because she was gone. Even though she hasn’t been around since 2012, this still happens to me all the time.
I guess it’s actually not that weird, but it feels weird. I know it’s a common thing people go through after a loved one passes. It’s like experiencing “phantom limb” but with a person who’s gone instead of a missing leg or arm.
My mother wasn’t young. She was 83. Her actual passing, while not tragic, still surfed along on the tail end of a tragic situation which I won’t go into today. Before that, though, we stopped speaking for a long time once but then got together later to resolve our issues.
The day we got back together involved an awkward meeting at a restaurant and she was slow to thaw. I’d written a poem and I gave it to her. She never commented on it and I figured she’d just shoved it into a drawer somewhere at home and forgotten about it–or maybe even thrown it away–who knows how deep the grudge went from our year-long disagreement? I know I was still fairly miffed.
But after she passed away and I was helping my father organize her things, I came across it, framed, in the bookcase on her side of the bed.
Poem to my mother
It happened one day and then was clear
that the years and months
and days and hours
unspooling like ribbons into the stars
and stuffed with the tools
that framed the world
and roused my spirit and my life too
stretched so far I think I knew
that I could never repay you
And even though one day that was clear,
I would always be bending
and always be trying
and when the day came I knew it was true
all day all night dusk to dawn
that thank you was tiny and not enough
I would still say it till we were both gone
thank you for understanding
thank you for not understanding
thank you for rioting
thank you for relenting
thank you for worrying
thank you for holding on
thank you for letting go
thank you for being my mother