For the last month and a bit, I’ve been struggling to write. It took me a little while to figure out what was holding me back, and an even longer while to figure out how to put it into words or whether I even should attempt to put it into words. I try to stay away from the overtly personal aspect of things on my blog, but sometimes, your personal issues and your writing collide and there is not much you can do about it.
I thought about writing it out in my journal, and maybe it sounds a little narcissistic, but I needed to be able to share this to stop it from bringing my creativity to a screeching halt.
I turned 29 last month – an age that I’ve struggled with (moreso subconsciously, until recently) for a while. An age that I’ve feared without understanding what it is. I knew approaching my birthday I didn’t want a big deal made about it. I asked Scott not to do anything special, and the extent of my planning was a joined birthday dinner with my family for myself, my B-I-L, and my new nephew, Henry, who was born on his father’s birthday. My brother was up from BC with his wife, and it felt more like a reunion than it did a birthday celebration. I was happy. But I was also anxiety ridden.
I didn’t fully understand what was going on in my mind until my friend’s daughter, Priscilla, passed away a couple of weeks ago. As I struggled to write her obituary, and then again, struggled through her funeral.
29 is one of those ages with me that holds more meaning than any other age. 29 was how old my biological mother was when she was diagnosed with an incurable stomach cancer. 29 was the age she gave birth to my baby sister, knowing shortly after that she could never raise her, never nurse her, and not even see her grow to be a year old. It was the year that all of her hopes and her dreams for her life and her future, and our lives and our future, were ripped away by a disease that would aggressively and painfully end her life.
Almost a year later, 29 was the age my father was when his whole world fell apart; when his wife passed away and he was left with a 4 year old and a baby, likely wondering how he would raise two little girls and where his life would go.
My mom (step-mom, although to me, she is really the only mother I’ve ever known, and I feel blessed to have her) asked me the other day when I confessed all this whether my anxiety, my fear, my hurt was about me dying at this age. I wish that was it. I wish it was as simple as being afraid to die, because then I could easily crush that fear with my ever-improving health and with the knowledge that there has been nothing discovered that would say otherwise.
I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t know what it is that leaves me afraid, leaves me crushed, leaves me filled with anxiety about the issue.
My memories of my mother are minimal. Most of them are from when she was dying, and even they are fading as I grow older. Blood in a glass after a coughing fit; seeing her helpless in the hospital bed that had been brought into our basement so she could spend her remaining time as close to her children as possible. The clearest two memories I have of her are of Suzanne being rushed off to the hospital while I stood by the Christmas light timer at our window, watching the ambulance load her up and rush her away, and of saying goodbye to her for the last time as she lay cold, still and pale in her coffin at the church.
If it weren’t for the pictures I have of her, I wouldn’t even remember her face anymore. I don’t remember her voice, her smell, her body language. I don’t remember the sound of her laugh, or how it would sound when the two of us would sing my German nursery rhymes together.
I love my mom (step), and I love every moment we have shared together, every big precious event that she has been a part of in my life. She’s my mentor, and my friend, and our relationship has grown stronger than it ever has been. I adore her, and I look up to her, and the love and marriage she has with my father is one that I look to for my own marriage.
But I also feel robbed. I feel robbed of the moments I never had with my biological mother; of that bond that people so often describe of existing between a mother and the child she has given birth to. My mom (step) and I had a very rough start. For reasons we have both faced, acknowledged, forgiven and moved on from, we never bonded the way a young child might with a new step-parent. And perhaps that is why the pain of what I never had with my birthmother is so strong.
Perhaps the worst feeling I’ve been able to identify is guilt – guilt that the age my mother was when she had to say goodbye to her family, her hopes and her dreams, is the age that my hopes and dreams are beginning to shape in. That the age where her life ended is the one where my life is really beginning.
I also feel guilty because I don’t know her, because I miss her and because I’ve never properly grieved/mourned for her (according to several counsellors) and yet, I don’t know how to because I don’t understand how I can properly grieve and mourn – or miss – someone that I don’t know.
And I feel guilty because the people and time in my life when I could have learned more about her, I pushed away because I couldn’t handle the constant comparisons that were made of me to her, and felt as if they wanted me to become her; to replace her.
I can’t claim I know what any of this means, or where to go from here. I know it means I likely need to take some time to speak to those who knew her and find out who she was, so that I can try to get past this. But beyond that, who knows.
I just hope that hashing this all out from the scrambled, jumbled thoughts racing through my mind will be enough to still my thoughts and bring my anxiety levels back to something normal.