I’ve missed a lot of opportunities. I have regrets. When my mom’s health was declining after her ALS diagnosis, I thought I’d have plenty of time to see her, to talk to her, to ask her about her best and worst parenting moments. I was wrong. I missed out on so much. That’s something I’ll feel continuously for the rest of my life.
On her birthday this year (February 13, 2014), I had this to say:
You know what really sucks? That the gentlest, most caring person I’ve ever known shouldn’t get to celebrate her 57th birthday. That her husband shouldn’t get to shower her with flowers and gifts, or her children and grandchildren call her or take her out for breakfast. That she shouldn’t get to hear for another year, another day, that she means the world to some people. To me.
“Yeah, it feels like the world has grown cold now that you’ve gone away.”
Although she would say she had no regrets about how and when any of us kids were conceived, I know she regretted a lot about her life. She was trapped, chained, and held captive by her own lack of self-worth. She never finished college and was consistently paid less than she was worth in non-fulfilling jobs. I like to think that, had it not been for her crippling self-consciousness and abysmal self-esteem, my mom would have been a singer/dancer.
I like to imagine her as carefree, moving her limbs expressively with the wind, singing like no one was listening. Really, I think that’s the kind of life she wanted for her kids and grandkids. Before she died, she said that she wanted Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” played at her funeral. That was her farewell message to her grandchildren.
Since then, I’ve felt so weak and checked out of life more times than I can count. I’ve wanted to leave, just quit living. But then sometimes, out of nowhere, I’ll hear “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, and it’s like my mom is there, telling me to keep living and thriving. It’s not how she lived her own life, yet I feel like it’s what she wanted for me. I’m not brave, though. I want to build a nest and bury myself in it until I forget, until I’m forgotten.
But that’s not what my mom wanted for me. She’d want me to be brave, to speak up, to be an advocate and a champion, to be the empathetic, strong yet sensitive human being she helped create. She’d want me to speak up.
I will not miss this opportunity. I almost didn’t do anything for 2014 Donna Day. By now, you’re probably wondering what this post has to do with Donna at all. Continue reading