Finding Words

Six days after my last post, my mom passed away. It’s still hard to say it out loud and to admit that it’s real. My mom, who went to the gym, who walked up to seven miles in a stretch, who ran around playgrounds with her grandkids just four months ago. My mom, who is the life of the party, is gone.

There are layers of lessons, things that I need to take with me on my journey forward. Things about love and relationships, and staying positive. Things about family and making the effort to be there for people when they need you and accepting help when it’s offered. Things about death and what it means to our fragile human existence, how to understand and rationalize it.

So many lessons. And over time I will digest and assimilate them. But right now, the second Monday since she’s left us, all I can think about is how much I miss her and that I’m not ready for her to be gone.

My mom was only seven years into grandmother-dom. She came to Portland two weeks before Luca’s birth, anxiously anticipating her new role and she held him right after he was born. She cried when I told her I was pregnant with Sabina and she came to my first ultra-sound and heard her heartbeat. She was supposed to help me navigate the teenage years with helpful advice and stories about me that would make us both laugh and sigh thinking about that time for us. And she would have given me words that would make me feel like I wasn’t as far off the rails as I thought.

But I can’t call her anymore. I can’t ask her for advice about the kids. Luca can’t text her emoticons early on a Saturday and get funny responses. I can’t get on the phone with my dad and then have him say, let me grab your mom, we’ll put you on speaker. I will no longer get annoying texts on Sunday at 4:30am when my mom wants to Skype but forgets that I’m on a different coast.

No more glasses of wine, no more baking Christmas cookies, no more hearing stories of how she was raised compared to how she raised us compared to how I’m raising my kids. No more powdered Italian dressing mixed with rice vinegar, no more broccoli in the microwave, no more waking her up from in front of the t.v. No more hearing her brag about us and about her Italian son-in-law, no more asking for her help when Lorenzo goes out of town and asking if she could stay for more than a week. No more mother’s day adventures, no more encouraging her not to wear sweatpants and no more pressure from her to move to the east coast.

The notes of her voice have ceased to ring and all I want is to hear her voice. In the end she couldn’t speak, and for my mom, that was a bigger tragedy than anything else. She talked and shared and asked questions. Her voice was her tool for building her community.

There is logic and reasoning in all of this, and I’ll get there. I’ll put things into perspective and perhaps I’ll be more prepared for this the next time it happens.

Or maybe I won’t. Because even though we all know we will die, on some date on which we have no control, even though we know that every person we form a relationship with will die, I will never stop loving the people in my life with my whole self and my whole heart. And when a piece is ripped off, it will always hurt. Always. Knowing the hurt will come will not stop me from loving. It makes me want to love more, knowing they won’t be there forever, and I never want to regret that I didn’t love the best way I could, despite the future pain that will come.

I loved my mom and I also treated her like shit, and she also knew, because she’s a mom, that kids take their shit out on their parents. That too is a sign of love. We take our shit out on our mom’s, because they keep us safe and love us unconditionally. This has been the hardest thing for me to reconcile even though none of the stuff between us was serious. It was just normal mom/daughter stuff, but it took time away from me appreciating her, with all of her quirks. I do believe that we were closer than most because we had arguments and worked through them, we talked about everything, even if it was hard. She absolutely knew how I felt about her, and as a mom, I now understand more about her unconditional love for me. I don’t hold anything against my kids. Even if they act like idiots sometimes. They are allowed to throw tantrums and yell at me and even bite me (Luca used to bite me when he was a baby), and I’ll still love them more wholly and more unconditionally and more fully than anyone else on this planet. I will always protect them the best that I can.

I will always do my best to listen for my mom’s voice when I need her guidance. And I will always miss hearing the real thing.