I’ve been thinking about my mother more this past year, as the wedding and the move gets closer. There are times it’s very hard to do all of this without her. There are times I know she would be very happy for me, and there are times I acknowledge that the move would be a lot harder for both of us, if she was still here. But all of that, I know, is perfectly natural. I know I’ll think of Mom on my wedding day, and I’ll probably think of her even more when I drive away from the house we shared. It’ll be hard, but it’s okay. It’s supposed to be, in a good way.
What’s hardest to remember about Mom, though, isn’t okay — it’s the times things were so awful for her, so difficult. Her life was harder than it should have been. Don’t get me wrong: she would have been the first one to say that she had a lot of joy, and a lot of love. But she deserved less heartache, less loss, and less fear. She kept so much of that from me when I was a younger. I didn’t know how poor we were, how tough we had it, how precariously we were getting by. She took care of me, and she was scared so I didn’t have to be. I asked her how she did it, once, and said I was sorry she’d had to worry about me, and not just herself. She said having me to take care of was what kept her going, and what helped her. I hope that was true. I hope I helped. I told her as often as I could that she did good, that she made sure I had what I needed, that I knew she’d always done the best she could with the absolutely shitty hand she’d been dealt. I hope she believed me, but I know, like all of us, she still looked back with hindsight, castigated herself for not doing better, second-guessed her every mistake.
So I have to imagine if I could see her for just one day, or have just a minute to tell her one more thing, it wouldn’t end up being about my wedding dress, or about the tuxedos I chose because they’re just like the ones worn at hers, or the dinner we picked out that was one of her favorite meals. I’d want her to know all those things, but more importantly, I’d try my best one more time to make her realize that she was the best mother anyone could have asked for, and that she needed to stop blaming herself for sins that weren’t her own. Those are what’s worth remembering.