Losing someone you love is devastating. No one can
escape death. However, watching someone die adds another dimension to grief. More so, when the relationship you shared is filled with regret.
I did not watch my mother die, like her husband, Bill,
my two siblings, and aunt. I lived three-thousand miles away, but I felt her
leave for the second time in my life, and that pain was almost unbearable.
The woman they knew was not the woman I knew. I spent the majority of my life estranged from my
mother. In fact, most of my teen years and entire adulthood I spent alienated
from my family. As in all relationships, this was not all one-sided. It had as much to do with me, as it did them. Nonetheless, my heart was filled with regret.
The turning point in our relationship came in 2008
when my mother came to my oldest daughter’s high school graduation. Despite
the hectic schedule, we were able to share a few treasured moments together: moments of tears, apologies, holding hands, and most of all, forgiveness.
Moments forever etched in my memory.
Yet, I was still unsure. I didn’t know if I could
open my heart to a woman I barely knew or understood. It would be cruel to
imply that my mother intentionally hurt or rejected me. She did not. She was fighting battles I could not understand as a child. Still, dysfunctional families leave a mess in their wake. No one comes out of chaos
unscathed. At the time, the woman in me knew and understood this truth. But the
child in me did not.
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