Sunday, April 26, 2015

How Do You Say Goodbye to Your Mom?

How Do You Say Goodbye to Your Mom?
Catherine Cook-Cottone
The Yoga Bag

I like to follow the instructions. I like to read the books. I want the answer, the right way. Give me the 10 steps, the empirically supported intervention, the best practice. I have Googled, asked, reviewed, and searched key terms like grief, Hospice, and life-after-death. Apparently, there is no amount of information that can help me do this. I can’t seem to think my way out of this one.

For some things, there just aren’t any answers. It just is. It just hurts.

There are these moments. Her obituary comes across Facebook as a student remembers her. One of my sisters or brothers texts how much they are missing her. Sometimes that is me; “I miss mom,” I text. An innocent scroll through my photos that brings up an image of mom. I walk by a store and, “Mom would love that” runs through my mind. All these, each followed by a deep and heavy hurt.

Sometimes, I don’t see them coming.

Then, the really hard parts. The fights you got into in high school. The things you said and didn’t say. You know, I wanted to show her Chloe’s latest art and I forgot to grab it before I left. I forgot.

It hurts to breathe.

I told her goodbye. I said I was sorry. I told her I loved her a million times throughout her life and during those last days.

For some things, there is no amount of talking that helps. It just is. It just hurts.

I have been busy. But that doesn’t help me say goodbye.

For some things, there is no amount of busy that helps. It just is. It just hurts.

How do you say goodbye to your mom?

When there are no answers, maybe you are asking the wrong question. More, maybe it’s not a question at all.

Maybe, just maybe, you are not supposed to say goodbye. Goodbye is something we can do. It is something that might fix things. I have done it many times through lovers or friends. It gets too hard- goodbye. Easy. Done. All fixed.

Mom, you and all of our feelings and loves and fights and connections and disconnections- were not meant to be fixed. They just are. Some of it is deeply agonizing, a piercing pain, and some of it is nothing short of sunlight almost caught in a just-fallen drop of rain, whispering on a rose petal. The way you loved Stephen and dressed up for dinner with Dad. The way you ruminated about the one student who wasn’t journaling in English class and the inventive ways you could reach her. The way you watched movies as if you were dancing on an over-turned boat, singing in the rain, protecting a mouse in a fist, and waiting for your lover to show up, sky-high in Seattle.  

Sunlight in rain, on roses.

I think God, the universe, wants to me to do something else this time. Something beyond, bigger than, outside of- saying goodbye. I think I am being asked to stay. To stay present with and to all of it- the deep, chest pressing, gut wrenching, loss- the melancholy missing of your romantic, idealized, if-only approach to life- the ache for conversations I wanted to embody with you and now will be ephemeral, in spirit- the hoping and working toward believing that you can see how amazing my daughters are today and will be tomorrow. Mom, Chloe had a great game and you should hear Maya sing….

So, no goodbye. I am here in all of it.

I need time though. Sorry Mom, I can’t bake cookies yet. Not yet. It would feel too much like saying goodbye.

When I do, will you help me?


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