My darling, I didn’t always give you the credit you deserved, and sometimes I was judgmental and downright cruel. The words I spoke into your spirit and sometimes behind your back were toxic. (My eyes are heavy with tears as I write this.) I know I’ve said this before, but it’s Mother’s Day, and I want to say it officially, once and for all. No one could’ve been our girl’s mother but you, and no one could’ve done it better.
I had always been hard on you, but after our girl took her last breath, I became a monster. I was verbally and emotionally abusive, and very little of what I said to you was kind or encouraging. Even though I knew in some deep, inexplicable part of myself that you were the most splendid bit of magic our girl could have, I couldn’t help blaming you. I made every day a living hell, my retribution for letting our girl die.
When you would step outside and lift your face to the sky hoping for a bit of comfort, I would say, “How can you enjoy the warmth of the sun on your face when our only child is in a dark box deep in the earth?” When you would sit down to a meal, I would remind you that the mortician had glued our girl’s lips shut, and she would never taste fresh berries, or watermelon, or cheesecake again. When you were half dead from exhaustion and tried to sleep at night, I’d whisper, just as you were drifting off, “What kind of mother let’s her only child die and then curls up for a good night’s sleep?” I gave you no peace, and even to my own detriment, I spent every waking moment making you regret your existence.
But that following winter, something happened. For the first time in nearly a year, you did something that you hadn’t done since our girl left. You spoke back to me. You told me that you loved our girl more than you loved your own life, but that it was not your job to save her. You said that as painful as it was, “saving her” was not a part of the agreement. When you said these words to me, my insides began to melt. I had forgotten about the agreement. Of course, forgetting the agreement is part of the agreement, but it didn’t ease the guilt I felt for my behavior.
You agreed to play the role of our girl’s mother. She chose you because you were the only one with the experience, strength, and wisdom to play the part, the only one with the stomach to see it through without bailing, the only one who could nail it. You alone could create the space she needed to play out the painful challenges that she chose and that you both agreed to before either of you ever came here. And I know now that you played that part with excellence all the way to the bitter end.
After setting me straight, you told me that I was to never again open my mouth and speak harm to you. And you know what? I haven’t. When I would forget and start to say something, you would correct me with so much love and tenderness. And then, on top of everything, you forgave me, and with that forgiveness came the healing that I didn’t even know I needed.
And now I spend every waking moment watching you honor the rest of the agreement. I watch you bask in the sunshine, eat good food and grow flowers in your garden. I watch you read good books and drink tea from your ancestor’s teacups. I watch you enjoy the company of your friends. I watch you laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and sometimes cry at the sheer depth and magnitude of it all. And best of all, I watch you dream dreams. Oh, my darling, whatever you do, keep dreaming dreams and know that I am always in your corner!
This is an open letter to the most beautiful mother I know, and I am she.