Late last night, squashed in the recliner with Duckie sleeping heavily against me, it occurred to me that today was the 14th anniversary of my mother’s death.
Fourteen years is a long time (in my limited perspective). You might think such a long time would diminish the grief of the loss. It doesn’t. I spent so long in my cozy cannabis haze after she died that the grieving process kinda stopped. Every year in August (sometimes September) it would occur to me that I’d missed the anniversary, forgotten it completely. This is the first year in a long time that I’ve managed to catch it on the day. (I’m abysmally bad at remembering birthdays and anniversaries, too.)
I contacted the Memorial Gardens where she’s buried in Florida, looking for the exact location of her gravesite as well as the year of her death. I know, it’s pretty bad when you can’t remember whether your mother died in 1992 or 1993. I’m pretty sure it was in 1992 – the year of Hurricane Andrew. We tried to get her car out of the parking garage and found that it had been flooded out by the hurricane.
I’m not planning a trip there anytime soon. I just wanted to have the information. I’m sure it’s down in the basement somewhere, but the basement is full of spiders and mold and dust and more spiders, so I’m a little scared of going adventuring there.
I wish she could have met her son-in-law. I wish she could have met her granddaughter. As wild as I was when she died, I can’t imagine she ever had any fantasies about grandmotherhood. Wasn’t really in her nature, anyway – Mom was all about staying young forever. She never got on my case about the whole marriage/kids thing.
People who believe in an afterlife tells me she’s looking down on Duckie and Brian and me and seeing everything – so for them, she and other folks who have passed on can know that we’re doing ok. Lucky us, lucky them.
I’m not sure I believe that. (Which doesn’t make it untrue, it just means I don’t believe it entirely.) We don’t really know what, if anything, happens to souls when they’re done with these human bodies. My ideas about it are pretty vague, and include possibilities like reincarnation, waiting periods, and existence as energetic beings (like, say, Buddha). Maybe it’s more like What Dreams May Come, where the soul’s vision guides it to its own afterlife.
The times I have felt my mother’s presence since her death may have been figments of an overwrought, needy imagination. Or they may have been the equivalent of a spiritual drive-by, Mom catching a wisp of memory from me and checking in to see what it’s about. Whatever the reason, I have not felt that presence in some time. Maybe that means she has finally passed on to another life. I’m pretty sure she had some lessons to learn when she died, so if Buddhist dharma is any indicator, she’ll have a few more turns around the Wheel before she catches the Enlightenment Express. Maybe it means I’ve gotten my shit together enough that I don’t need to imagine her presence. (Yeah. Right. Whatever.) Maybe I’m just too busy being a mother and a wife to waste time or energy in wish-fulfillment. Maybe it means nothing. Maybe all of these possibilities are true.
What was I talking about?
Oh – yeah. I’m still pissed she’s gone. I don’t know what I was supposed to learn by losing her, except what it feels like to have your heart crushed inside you. I admit, it has made me more sympathetic towards others who experience the loss of loved ones – maybe even a tad too sensitive for my own health. It has certainly given me a definitive opinion on needless suffering. In my eyes, anything that causes someone to feel this way for any reason is just pure stinking crap, whatever way you to try to dress it up.
Whew. Seems I’m still tender about this even after fourteen years.
Just got a call back from the Gardens. For the record, she’s buried at Fred Hunter Memorial Gardens, Hollywood, Florida, Fountain Garden Number One, Lot 66, Space 4. Her grave is the one with the comedy-tragedy masks.
And it was 1992 after all. No surprise then, that I don’t remember Hurricane Andrew.