The day after my mom died, the outpouring of love for her was incredible. People said how amazing she was, how she took care of everyone, how she was like a second mother to them, that she had the most generous heart and on and on and on...
I was furious. Who were these people? Were they blind? Were they stupid? Kind? Generous? A second mother??? Did they even know my mom? Had they actually met?
That was Day 1.
I'm not there anymore.
I'm still navigating these waters and I find something new every day.
Today I was thinking about cruelty.
How my mother thought that I was cruel and I thought that she was cruel and how people who knew my mother and loved her so much could not understand how or why I could be so cruel to her and how people who know and love me so much could not understand how my mother could be so cruel to me and people who love me do not think that I am cruel and people who love my mother do not think that she is cruel and how on earth did we get here and it is
I am not cruel. My mother was not cruel. But we are broken. We are all broken. And I guess with my mom and I, that brokenness came across as cruelty. Because to be sure, no matter what anyone else might see in either one of us, my mother and I could be very cruel to each other. No matter how beautiful we each might be, our brokenness could make us hurtful.
Not intentionally malicious. But still...cruel.
So there's that. I'm still working on that. I have nothing profound or wise to say, except how strange it is to try and see my mom and I's relationship through the eyes of others, and to simultaneously take her side and mine. And to try and find a place where there are no sides to take.
I'm not there yet.
But I am at brokenness. And vulnerability.
And here's where things are weird...
My mom and I, for at least a little while, were the same guy. I'm trying to wrap my head around that - that my mom and I, who generally could not be in the same room with each other without everything turning into terrible, were incredibly alike.
Broken and in pain, and trying to fix it by ignoring it and trying to save the world instead. My mother was kind and generous and thoughtful and loving and took care of everyone around her. I cannot deny that. She would have taken care of me if I would have let her (I did not, and that was the right choice, as difficult a choice as it was for everyone involved. She was not wrong for wanting to take care of me. I was not wrong for not letting her). My mother wanted people to be happy, and if she could help them be happy, she would. I didn't know this version of my mother, but I can see it and hear it from everyone who talks about her. Literally, everyone.
Those people are not liars. They are speaking about someone that they loved and that they knew well. They speak the truth.
And I think that there are many people who might say the same about me - that I am kind and thoughtful and generous and loving and I take care of people ...
BUT...I now take care of myself first, before trying to take care of everyone around me. And I had to learn that the hard way, by completely falling apart.
(aren't all of life's most valuable lessons learned the hard way? And doesn't it piss you off?)
I think that desire to fix the world comes from not wanting to confront our own brokenness and pain. Because seriously...who wants to mess with any of that when instead, you can shove it aside and just have people love you and think that you are good? And what would happen if people thought that you were flawed? Would they stop loving you?
It is best not to even find out.
I think that's where my mom was. And I think that, because I was there... for a really long time. "Nothing is wrong with me as long as I am good enough for everyone else." I think my mom was everything to everyone for her entire life, and in being that, she completely ignored the parts of herself that needed the most attention. That hurt. And brokenness.
And I wish my mom could have opened herself up to that and just fallen apart, because as painful as that is, it is also such an incredible place of healing.
To say, "I cannot do this. I cannot help you. Or save you. I'm in pain. I cannot be perfect. I am flawed because I am human. I need help. I need to rest for a while."
And I wish that I would have had the courage and the wisdom to have recognized that struggle in my mom, and let her know that as angry as I was, if she would have asked for a lifeline, I would have provided it. I wish I wouldn't have been so arrogant as to think that I knew the whole of who she was, and that there wasn't anything left to know.
The things we realize when it's too late...
...let them be the things we carry going forward...
so we don't have to do this again.
So I am sorting through all of this. Finding out who my mom was and who she was not. Fighting with her in my head. Trying not to fight with her in my head. Trying to balance between my truth and the truth of others. Trying to be kind. Trying to be true. Trying to be fair. Trying to stay afloat on these weird, rough, and unfamiliar waters.
And knowing - you cannot be an effective lighthouse if you don't actually maintain the lighthouse. A lighthouse that burns out cannot light the way for anyone.
And realizing - a lighthouse shines a light for all - even the people that you are angry with, the people you don't know, the people that you judge even when you're trying not to judge them. The light does not switch on and off.
You have to keep the light on.
And you have to maintain the building.
I wish you Grace and Peace, today and always.
I am so grateful for you.