The One Year Anniversary of My Mother’s Death

I’ve written hundreds of memorial profiles.

This one is not new news, it is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.

I’ve just cocooned myself here at home. I didn’t post about it anywhere because I don’t want to answer questions or make decisions. I don’t want good intentions to intrude on my careful balance of grief, anxiety, and regret.

That in-between space wedged between craving comfort and not wanting to be tuned into the rest of the world. Where even the most gentle of inquiries feels intrusive and demanding. I want you to go away, but only so far.

In my trauma processing therapy, we are working our way up to some truly heinous stuff I experienced with my mother. She didn’t do things to me, these are her trauma experiences that I witnessed – creating more trauma for me. These aren’t moments or memories I can share with really anyone but my therapist. It would feel like I’m burdening my friends and family.

For a very long time, I quietly blamed her. I wanted her to be the strong one, I wanted her to fix things. What it took me a long time to understand is that she was trying her best to do just that. In my childhood, I simply couldn’t see how much brutality she endured (not from my father.) And I feel truly grateful that she is free, but also incredibly angry that she had to be “freed” – she deserved a life of freedom.

I resemble her in many ways although I’m the spitting image of my father. I have her body type, her hair, I catch myself walking with my arm out to the side like she did, I’m always carrying an overcrowded purse. In a strange way, the distance between us before her death and since has given me a sense that I’m actually closer to her. I talk with her sometimes, I imagine how happy she is being reunited with her parents, siblings, and grandmothers. She is one of the few people who always called me Susan, rarely Sue, sometimes Susie.

But to get to the other side, the healing side of this process, I have to go through these terrifying memories with only my therapist to guide me. I know that I couldn’t have done it while she was alive because I would never ever want to subject her to reliving those experiences. I don’t want to burden my brother who has his own trauma to manage.

I think my mother would want me to be happy and eased of some of this sorrow. She found comfort in Catholicism, the version of her childhood before Vatican II. Her desire to recreate that for her own children led to an unknowing but disastrous decision to move into a parish staffed by predator priests for more than 26 years. So that’s not my jam. But I’m so familiar with it that I can almost imagine how she would create her reality. I wouldn’t begrudge her that comfort.

I would just like to find some of that peace of mind here while I’m still alive.


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