Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Maybe Mama Reads This Blog
I can try to write this as I would write to my Mom but the thing is, my mother didn't read this blog when she was alive, she's certainly not going to read it now. My mother always said close friends should not discuss religion or politics because "I'm not going to change your mind and you're not going to change mine." I believe this to be true. When it comes to faith, to Heaven, we believe what we believe and while some one else's mind might be malleable, mine is not right now.
I would love to believe in an afterlife, in a place where my mother can see me and watch over us, enjoying our day to day lives. But in the words of a close friend, what kind of Heaven would that be, a place where we could see our loved ones and never be able to be with them? I'd never thought of it that way but I agree with this philosophy. My mother would be tortured to watch us and incapable of touching us. If she was so miserable in her last days on that hospital bed because she suddenly lacked the power to speak to me, she wouldn't be happy to watch her beloved granddaughter cry and ask for her and not be able to answer her back.
Maybe there's a place where all the pain my mother felt is gone and she's happily in a new body, running and skipping and enjoying a sudden ability to do deep knee bends. She could skitter across a flowery meadows drenched with sunlight beside her beloved Uncle Joe, her brother, her parents who she loved so much. She can't see us, no, but she'd be with people she loved so earnestly and desperately that she's happy. I want to believe this for her, I wish I completely believed this for her but I don't. I don't know where she is, if she's anywhere or if she's just left the world and all that remains of her are the ashes in a little box I keep under my bed until I make the trek to Pittsburgh to bury her ashes in the grave with my grandparents.
My friend Paula lost her mom suddenly when a passing truck mowed down her mother's car as she backed out of her driveway. A religious person, Paula waited for telltale signs that her mother watched her from "somewhere" and could still communicate with her. As time passed and nothing happened, Paula increasingly became angered by what she refers to as an "absolute silence." There was no communication, no coincidental signs that indicated her mother was still "with her." Her ability to be with her mom ended the day her mother died and there's been no connection since.
Paula wrote a spectacular essay about her mother's death entitled "Absolute Silence." It is hands down the best writing I've ever read on grief, and that includes the much praised book by Joan Didion. Right now, I'm right there with Paula, feeling nothing but sadness and an almost crushing hopelessness by my own absolute silence.
I certainly don't want to offend anyone who believes in Heaven or say "I'm right and you're not." That's not what this is about at all. I won't say I wish more than anything that I did believe in heaven because what I wish for more than anything is my mother, here with me. But I can't describe how much I would love to believe in a Heaven, in a world where my mother lives without pain, happily looking out for me and protecting me from unseen terrible forces. In her last days, as she was so visibly saddened by the realization that she was in fact leaving us, I tried to comfort her by saying, maybe there really was a Heaven and she'd get to be with the people she'd lost and missed so very much.
And maybe, I told her, since my mother always wanted to right any wrong she saw in my brother's and my own life, maybe she'd be able to do more for us in Heaven. Maybe from there she'd have an ability to really protect me and Billy in a way she couldn't from here on Earth. She always felt that her brother, shortly after he died, "told" her to get the mammogram that would detect her cancer while it was still stage one.
I want to believe all this, I really do. I want to feel that now her arms are around me, gripping me in a hug that will never fade. But thinking about this makes me cry. I now feel her weak right arm around me for the last hug she gave me, on my birthday. I sat on her hospital bed and lay my head against her chest and she managed to get that arm around me, an ability I didn't think she had anymore. The day before, they told me she would not open her eyes again but not only did she do that, there she was, putting her arm around me, hugging me. She couldn't really speak but I could feel it, running all the way through me, her love for me.
I can't feel it now. Some one said to me shortly before she died that love was stronger than death and that the love would always be there even if she didn't survive this. On my birthday, with her arm around me, with her eyes on me, I felt that love vibrate down my limbs like a pulse.
I don't feel it now and I want to, I want to so much.