...I knew it would come.
Have you ever noticed that no one dies who was less than perfect?
Everyone who dies is elevated to sainthood.
There is no room for complicated grief. Just perfect memories of perfect people.
At her Celebration of Life, people kept telling me how much my mom loved me.
"She loved you so much."
I smiled. I nodded. I hugged them back. I told them how sorry I was for their loss.
And I was. I am. She sounds amazing and I'm so sorry that you will have this hole in your life where she was. These stories are incredible.
I wish I could have met her.
And I wanted to scream.
I wanted to beat my fists into the floor and scream and break things and disparage her memory and...
I smiled. I nodded. I hugged people back.
I can recognize and appreciate who my mother was to all of these people. I can appreciate the deep affection and love that they had for her, and all of the good that she brought into their lives.
I am not mad at people who saw the good in my mother and who loved her for it.
I found myself writing my own obituary this week. I implored my husband, "if I die first, don't let them make me perfect. Tell them I was flawed and broken and struggling and succeeding and failing and trying and human. Don't let them put me on a pedestal."
And I cleaned my house for hours and days because everyone dies suddenly and my house has to be clean...just in case...
And I walked around the house dazed and I asked my husband," was I fair to my parents? If my mom was so perfect and my relationship with her was just this...mess...was I fair? Am I awful? Am I crazy? Did I make all of this up? Was I fair?"
And he assured me that I was fair. That he was my witness. That I was not crazy and that yes, I was fair.
My mom said "our secrets make us sick" and I laughed.
My mom had a secret.
When she died, people who knew her well but had never met me looked at me with disgust. People assumed that I was an alcoholic, a drug addict, in trouble with the law, any number of things I must be that would lead me not to speak to this woman who was a saint among saints.
I must be a bad child. There must be something wrong with me. I am terrible.
And through the years, I isolated myself from everyone because...everyone thought I should speak to my mother. Everyone thought I should be nicer to her. She was such a good woman and it hurt her so much that I wouldn't speak to her and why was I so awful and...
No one believes me anyway and she always said that I was a liar.
I just closed myself off. And now she is gone. And there is no room for complicated grief. There is no room to wish that your mother would have actually loved you the way that everyone says that she did. When people tell me how much she loved me, there is no place to do or say anything but agree. There is no place to refute the perfection of the deceased. There is no room to say that this hurts me too, but in a different way.
She is gone, a saint in Heaven. And I am her child in continuing isolation.
And no one dies who was less than perfect.