Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Death of a birthday

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. Or, more grammatically correct, had been my mom's birthday. She died 10 years ago.

So she's gone. That person who raised me to be a strong, independent woman is gone. She gave me everything she could, and when she was finished with her life, she left. She is not here for me to call when I'm lost, she wasn't here when I didn't know what to do with two babies screaming at once, she won't be here the next time I'm so frustrated with life that I barely know how to go on. She's gone, but I'm still here and I will go on.

I AM sad that she's gone. I'm crying right now thinking that she never met my fantastic pain in the ass kids, or my husband and his great family. She never saw Germany or my home or the Christmas hearts I made with Chloé yesterday. She never read my blog and she never ate Gaetan's cheese soufflé with a glass of Bordeaux.

A few months after she died, I went to Venice to celebrate my 30th birthday. We took a boat to the cemetery island, and seeing all of the candles in the church, I realized that this would be a good place to leave a piece of her memory. I didn't have a grave to visit or ashes to put anywhere, only my own memories and grief that had to find a place in the present. I thought a piece of her spirit would like to live there on that sacred island. I feared for a moment she might feel trapped there, but I decided she would love the foreignness of it - and when she was finished there, she could take a boat to anywhere else in the world or beyond. So I lit her a candle and watched it sparkle and glow through the tears for a while, and then Gaetan and I went for a walk before catching the boat again.

I often feel I'm expected to be more sad about death. Like the death of someone means we the still-living have to suffer. But I can't. They are gone, these dead people, and we can do nothing about that. The only thing I can do is remember her: remember the good things and the less good things and the sweaters she made and the words she spoke and the smiles that lit up her face. I realize that for some people this is also done by remembering their birthdays, and death days. But not for me. I DO think of her birthday as December approaches, and then December 3rd comes and goes and nothing has changed. There is no one to wish happy birthday to.

She's not in this life celebrating birthdays and picking flowers and kissing her grandchildren. She has become finite here, and I assume that the infiniteness of her soul continues somewhere else. She's gone, but she goes on on her own path. Perhaps our paths will cross again. Whether I will know her then, I don't know.

Isole di San Michele (photo from www.visitvenice.co.uk) 

Christmas hearts and bow

one of my favorite pictures of my crazy mom

1 comment:

Linz said...

That was really heartfelt and beautiful, Claire. Thanks for sharing. Your perspective is something I always look forward to reading about.