You died, and I have struggled. You spoke with such breeziness in your final weeks of life: Oh, I don’t have to worry about you. But maybe you should have. Maybe then you would have turned your beautiful face to me and said How can I help ease the impossibly painful? And I would have told you.
Yes, complaining about this might be proof that I am in fact the worlds biggest asshole, but it has been hard to get over, Mom. Every time I think I find a shred of peace with this, I stub my toe on it again.
What is “this?” you may ask. I’ll tell you now:
You didn’t talk to me. You kept your emotions stowed away like Christmas presents hidden from a four-year old. You were sick and you were dying and I knew nothing of what was in your heart. I’ve had people I barely know clutch my hand with bony, cool fingers, stare straight into my eyes with a watery gaze and tell me how it is for them. What its like to die. What they are proud of. What they regret. What they hope for their loved ones after they are gone. And you did none of that. You were free with your smiles with everyone on the elevators, in the lobbies, with every cashier, every nursing attendant. You smiled and you smiled and you were polite and gracious and never complained, but you never opened up either.
It is selfish of me to have wanted more from you. It was your journey, your business. But I felt betrayed because I wanted to give you what you gave me. From the beginning of my life till the end of yours, I would bare my soul to you, all the joy as well as all the pain, and you would listen, take it all in and love me regardless. You were my best friend; I wanted to be yours too. Yet when you needed me the most, I was not to be trusted. The opportunity to support you in death as I was supported in life was refused, and this seemingly reinforced the longstanding suspicion that I was not worthy to be your daughter.
I know, I know. But I wasn’t. You were the rarest of creatures: beautiful, unfailingly kind, bright, funny. You daughter should have been someone less average.
It is difficult for me to understand why you closed the door on me at the end. And it wasn’t just me; I’m not sure that you trusted anyone with your fears and your grief. Perhaps you were too afraid at what you would find in the dark recesses, so you sealed them off and acknowledged only the sunshine. Maybe you did with your heart what you did with your home: locked the basement door, opened the living room blinds, arranged the flowers, fluffed the pillows. Made everything beautiful and tidy before you left. This makes some sense. You were always a very good housekeeper.