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Mother May I

The day I found out my mother had died was nothing at all like I imagined it would be.

This is what happened: My dad called my sister and I into the living room (I cannot remember if my sister still lived at home or not, and I don’t remember what I was doing before that because it was around dinner time that this happened) and he and my stepmom were both there and he told us that he had spoken to my mother’s boyfriend, or whatever the hell he was, and she had passed over night.

My sister immediately started crying and I believe my stepmother went over and consoled her. I, on the other hand, didn’t really offer up much emotion about the situation. I have no idea why not, I guess it didn’t really hit me.

We talked about it for a few minutes and then I told my parents I was off to band practice, which was scheduled and I never missed.

Looking back, I don’t think I could’ve done an odder thing. But I wanted to play some music and I wanted to be around who were, at the time, my closest friends. This was back before my sister and I were close, and during a time that I would rather turn to my friends then my parents for comfort. Once I got to band practice, I told the guys what happened and the unanimous decision was to end band practice and send me home to be with my family. But I convinced them that we should go on as usual and eventually we did.

The next several days my family and I were setting up arrangements for her memorial service and my Dad purchased a spot for her ashes at the cemetery, and it was very hectic. I was given bereavement leave from Kmart and they gave me a very nice gift basket.

And all this was going on while I still felt completely normal, had not shed a tear over the matter at all. I guess that isn’t abnormal, a lot of people experience that with a major death. I dunno, I didn’t think anything of it. I’m not sure whether or not it hit me, but I don’t think that was really the reason either.

My mother and I did not have a good relationship, something I’ll tackle in later posts I’m sure, and had only talked once for the last couple years of her life. That one time happened to have been just about a month before she died, and it was a good conversation. A conversation about how I had forgiven her for the things she done to myself and my sister, about how I was willing to start over with her. I think it was stuff she deserved to hear before she died. And I know it was stuff I needed to say to her before she died.

But getting back to how I introduced this blog: it was nothing like I imagined.

From the time I was very young, maybe ten years old, after seeing my mother in a psych ward and not doing well, I determined that it wasn’t likely that she would live until I was old, and that the day I found out she had died I would kill myself.

This was my first suicidal thought. And it was something I thought about whenever she was sick, or in the hospital, or just seemed to not be doing well. At some points in my life I viewed it as the necessary motivation to follow through on something I thought was immanent in my own life.

But she happened to die at the beginning of what would be the most sustained period of happiness and contentment I have experienced to this point in my life. I hadn’t been depressed in over a year, and I wouldn’t be for another few years. I was extremely happy in school, and with work, and my girlfriend and friends and my band. And all of that was going to get better in the next year.

When I found out that she had died not only was I not thinking about killing myself, I was barely thinking about crying. The entire event seems surreal to me now and it felt that way then as well.

People in my family think I didn’t deal with it well when it happened. And some even think that I’m still failing to deal with it properly. I really have no idea. I feel fine about it; I don’t have any rough feelings or anything. I wish it hadn’t happened, but I don’t think that means much. The reasons are simple; I wish my wife had met her, and my daughter. But it isn’t a big deal to me. My daughter has a grandmother in my stepmom that will be a much better grandmother then my mother could have ever been, even if she hadn’t moved to Pennsylvania. My wife has a much better mother in law in my stepmom as well.

Really the only thing about my mother’s death that still comes to me is how little it mattered to me when it happened, and how little it has changed my life since. You would think that death of a parent would be on the short list of major life moments, but I would have a hard time honestly saying that. Maybe that is me not dealing with it; in which case I don’t really know how to deal with it.

I’m glad it turned out the way it did versus the way I imagined it. I’m glad that it didn’t have a major negative impact on my life. And I’m glad that I dealt with it the way I did, even if people think I didn’t.