Saturday, March 28, 2009


Are we ever ready to lose our mothers? Can we ever be prepared to sing at their funerals? I suppose there are those mothers who are nightmares unto themselves. You'd think some children--grown adult children--would be pleased to suffer them no more. But death casting the relationship into stone may be the ultimate slap in the face: this relationship can never improve. The death of mom would be the death of hope.

There are those mothers for whom death is a sweet release. We've watched them suffer, body and soul, sometimes for years. We feel petty letting our grief color our relief for them. Grief permeates our porous boundaries easily and bleeds one emotion into the next.

And there are those moms who were simply women who did their best, loved us with all their might, and now are gone.

I think that no one is ever ready to say good-bye to their mom.

This afternoon, our choir sang for, among others, an 18 year old who was saying good-bye to her mother. Our pastor gave a lovely and meaningful sermon, truly, though my full eyes prevented me from retaining a single word of solace. Except this: that those who go before us (there are lots of euphemisms for dying, aren't there?) are with us at the communion table, just beyond our reach, but still sharing the meal.

Maybe everyone else is able to be a grown up about this. But I struggle with it, the notion that those I love being with me but not being with me is good enough, is balm enough. I suppose it may be balm enough, when I am able to be open about how wounded I am.

On the days when I am selfish and angry, I suspect that thinking of anyone I love and miss (let alone my mom) being an arm's reach away beyond the veil, just on the other side of the communion table, in the ether surrounding me yet I can't quite see or hear her, well, it won't be enough. It will not meet my need for a mother. And I will be broken.

Maybe this is why we can't ready ourselves to lose our mothers: our complex relationships with them stripped bare are mostly about us. Because that's how baby's relationship with her mother should be, focused on the little one. We grow, change, mature. Sometimes we become our mothers, taking over parental roles. Yet the genesis of our relationship continues to define it: we were helpless and she was everything.

There were few dry eyes today. We are all someone's child. Many of us are someone's parent. For most of us, the loss hits home. And we are not ready yet.



Blogger Suna said...

My mom died in 1984, and though we knew it was coming, it was still so difficult. In my darkest despair, I still wail (to myself) MOMMY! Knowing she never got to see my kids, my spouses, my failures and successes...that makes me sad. But I have always felt a presence--so maybe she's watching. Who knows?

8:46 PM  
Blogger Gwen said...

Loss marks us from the moment we are born and become separate from our mothers. We journey back toward union with God--like that final unison in the Hobby Alleluia we sang yesterday. Along the way? Mothers who love us, friends who show us who we are, children we love and let go.

Those folks beyond the veil--like you, I'm not sure that's much comfort. Except that something is there, something that lives in hope.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Liz T-G said...

Hope is like those little green sprouts, poking out of the white blanketing our yards this morning (well, not yours, Suna) even though rational thought would think all is lost.

Gwen, this was your post to write, not mine. :-)

10:41 AM  

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