Every year on November 4th, several family members of mine celebrate the life of a woman they loved. She had 42 years to leave lasting impressions on everyone she crossed paths with. Most will say that she was a phenomenal woman with the sincerest smile. Others will say there was only one like her, that they’ve never met anyone since that could compare. Three would say she was the best mom they could have asked for. I would say she was the worst mom I could have asked for.
There are very few things I actually remember about her. Being a disappointment time after time is what she did best. Several holidays went by before I gave up on having her as an active participant in my life. I remember wondering why she didn’t love me. I remember wondering what in her life was more important than me. In reality, none of her life was about me, but she was great at pretending. And for the longest time I was too.
Year after year I see my brothers uploading pictures on the web of the newest flowers or trinkets they’ve laid at her grave. They’ve brought their children to talk to their nanna, they pass on stories of the random things she did with her life and just like that, November 4th is over. The only thing I’ve ever done at her grave is scream with anger and cry with frustration. I’m still distraught over this woman who had nothing to do with me except give birth. The only remanence of her in me is my round face and button nose, the genetic game clearly has a sense of humor.
I told everyone that I forgave her years ago. I remember the day when I thought I had forgiven her. There were a million tears that day spent on her. Just like the million hours I spent trying to figure her out. To me, she will always remain this beautiful mystery, but not all beautiful things are great. She was this rare kind of beautiful, like once in a life time kind of beautiful. I see a lot of her in my youngest and sometimes in fleeting moments, I see her in me too.
At the end of the day, she had more influence on me than most active people in my life. She taught me so many lessons that only an absent mother could teach. She taught me a lot about personal relationships and the importance of communication. She taught me how to be a better mom. She taught me how to be a better person. Most of all, she taught me about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not about the person you’re forgiving. Forgiveness is about yourself. It’s about being able to walk away and say that life goes on. It’s about letting go of all the awful things that were done to you. It’s not about saying that these awful things were okay or about condoning future occurrences, but it’s about being able to walk away with a different outlook. It’s about growing as a person. Today I have grown, tremendously grown, as person, as a mom, as a daughter. Until next year, happy birthday.