Today begins the ending of a count down that started beating in my chest last August 13 when my Mom died. It counts out time and milestones in heartbeats, each sputter or acceleration beating out in the sound of a broken heart; too fast, too slow, too broken, something missing. I find myself with that feeling that comes with plugged ears; you can hear, but everything is distorted, unreal. Every month, every week, every day, every milestone, every holiday and every birthday has been a “first.” My family has gotten through each one, all suffering and grieving in our own ways; alone and together. For me, every time a month begins I think, “This is the first May of my existence without my Mom” and it just washes over me in a wholly debilitating flood of emotion that feels like it will take me under and not let me back up, and yet, each time, I re-surface. Battered and bloody, but surviving, I’m like my Mom that way. If my broken, bloody heart beats were a word, they would say "without."
Her birthday was in November. We wrote notes to her on big, fat Mylar balloon hearts and released them into the sky. It felt really, really good. On March 7 I began my first year as a motherless daughter; difficult for two reasons, one legitimate and one seemingly superficial. Legitimate because I can’t believe I’m still here when the person responsible for bringing me into the world and keeping me here is not. Superficial because I was struck with the knowledge on my birthday that I will never, ever get a really good present that I want and would never buy for myself again. Ever. My Mom was the best gift giver, period, I can't count the number of material things that she gave me that made me weep . When you are a mom, you know what your kids’ birthday means to you, it’s not about cake and presents. It’s about the realization that a person exists who you would literally throw yourself in front of a train for. It is the losing of yourself in another person which eventually evolves into growing wholly into yourself; your true self. My lack of good gifts is ridiculous on the surface but symbolizes something true and, for me, really hard to move past; your parents are the only people who love you beyond anything else. They are the only people whose main purpose is to put your well being before anyone else’s. They love you more than themselves, more than each other, more than any thing. I started out down one parent from the get go, it seems to make this loss more somehow, more without.