In Memoriam For My Mother

Mom’s Tombstone
Dear Mom,

Exactly one year ago today, you were killed in an unimaginable unforeseeable accident. I was there with you when your own car hit you, I was there as the rescue teams struggled to save you while you lost consciousness and bled out, and I was nearby when you finally died.

A year later I still hurt. Emotionally I bleed inside alternately struggling to blot from my conscience how your life ended and to be aware of and comprehend every detail of your death. Cruelly and yet mercifully, neither extreme is attainable, nor is the underlying struggle to have my life back the way it was before the accident: with you still alive and me ignorant of the trauma that would take you from me and the world of the living.

As the picture above shows, Dad made sure you were buried at Arlington as the two of you had always planned. He struggles with the fact that you’re dead, that you died before him, even though you fought your way back from breast cancer and were 16 months away from being declared completely recovered. ( By the way, he’s still healthy in the physical sense even if emotionally he’s an enigma, a stoic, a brave soldier.)

I struggle with the way in which you died, the senselessness and randomness of it, the way in which the rescue teams, the firefighters, the police, the bystanders and the rest of the world could just move on as if nothing bad had happened or you had never existed, made an impact, made a difference. But you did. You weren’t perfect — none of us is. But you were pretty close. It’s just too bad most of the world will never know, love and appreciate you the way Dad and I did, still do.

I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything thing to save you or better yet to prevent the whole catastrophe from taking place. I’m also sorry to say that Dad and I still don’t get along very well; the accident didn’t make the preexisting troubles between us any easier. But still each day we go on with the business of living and trying to figure out how to relate to one another. There simply isn’t another option. I didn’t die with you then, and I can’t die for you now. As grief-stricken, shocked, hurt and angry as I am, I am compelled to keep living, a moment at a time.

Your priest and everyone you went to church with all tell me you had done whatever it is Catholics do to put yourself on the fast track to admission into Heaven. Since you raised me to be an agnostic and since I’ve spent my life studying and believing in secular things like science and humanism, I can’t prove or disprove their belief that you got there quickly, like a VIP being ushered past the velvet ropes into an inner sanctum of goodness and peace. Still I’d like to think that they’re right, that you got what you had prepared yourself for and wanted. I can smile a little at the idea of you getting what you worked and wished for but that doesn’t completely comfort me. Maybe nothing ever will.

Maybe with enough time, things will get better for me and for everyone else who was hurt by your death. But I know that things can never be quite as good as they were while you were still here. I guess it’s just going to take the rest of whatever time I have left to kill on this planet to get close to that level of satisfaction with life. On that point I’m cautiously optimistic, that things can improve as time passes, even if it’s at a glacial pace.

And so I must close. Know that you are still loved, still thought of fondly, still spoken of even though sometimes there is pain in the recollection.

Your daughter

Song: Love Riot ‘Killing Time’

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