Thursday, August 04, 2005


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.

*deleted rant*

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.


Kiki said...

my heart is with you, andrea. the pain does ease a bit, eventually...but it never goes away. my beloved grandfather died may 23,1997. i always remember the date because it is also my sister's birthday (i can't imagine how this makes her feel every year, and part of me doesn't want to ask, because it might make her feel worse). death seems like the ultimate unfairness, doesn't it? our worlds are so defined, on many levels, by the people in them that any loss is cataclysmic. i wish i could tell you something more cheerful. at the very least, know that you aren't alone.

andi said...

Kelly -

Damn it's good to know you're still out there!

Mom died on Todd's birthday - do you remember him (I dated him for a while in college)? I keep meaning to send him a birthday message but since he was there when she died I know it will remind him of it. Pretty shitty birthday, if you ask me.

I was walking back from lunch today thinking, well, if we're all eventually going to be ultimately enlightened beings, then I guess I will run into Mom sooner or later, right? OK, so I'm selfish to want it to be sooner -- then I about got hit by a car trying to cross the street.

Gotta be careful whacha ask for, you know?

Sam said...

I know I don't have to reiterate how much I sympathize and empathize with your feelings about this tender subject. I'm glad you're finding your way through the fog. I depend on my little lighthouses every single day, and I am sure that I always will. Time seems to dull the ache a little, like a strong pain pill, but it never goes away. You just change around the pain, I think, for the better or the worse... like a tree healing around a nail or a lightning wound, maybe.
As for the anger - *whew*. I am just now beginning to realize how much I have towards those who left me, and realizing that I had no idea the depths of my capacity for anger at my own mother. I thought I had hit a plateau and "come to terms", but I had no idea... I guess it's good to know that life and ones' internal, eternal self still has plenty of surprises left. heh.
I'm also REALLYREALLYREALLYREALLY glad to hear you talk about YOU. I have to admit, for the last many moons I've just been skimming your blogs (I learned to look for Duckie's name, or Bribro's), or even skipping after I read the first sentence or two, if there were "famous" people's names involved. I couldn't tell you how sad this was for me, because I too had become addicted to watching you explore your inner world and the way your outer world (close to home as well as far away) affected you and caused you to grow and change or settle more deeply into yourself. I stopped reading your blogs for the same reason I stopped watching the news. This broke my heart a little, you started slipping away from me more (this is not an accusation to you - I was the one holding my end of the rope...), and I was worried about you, but I felt that it wasn't my place to say so. You asked my opinion on a related subject recently, and it was clear to me that my answer wasn't the right one, so I let it go - and kept skimming. I'm sorry.
As much as I ached for you after reading this, my heart also leapt with joy at seeing you get so close to your own life here in this sharing place, and in turn, to let me get a little closer to your life again too. Thank you. You're a grown woman, and strong minded, and I encourage you to do as you feel and trust your judgment over anyone elses'. As a strong minded grown woman, I can't, with any true conscience, do anything else. But I can honestly tell you that the distance that has opened between us over the last 10 months has (everything to do with me and) a lot to do with what I read here. It was a balm to my heart to read this Andi. I'm glad to know you're still holding on to your end, too.

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