Today is the second anniversary of my mother’s death, which I blogged about here and here. Since becoming a mother myself, there are days where it feels just as sad as the day it happened. When friends talk about their mum’s relationship with their children, I don’t have anything to contribute. I look at her (so beautiful!) in our wedding photos on the wall and think sadly that images and a few small videos are all that CJ will ever have to remember her by. When times get tough with CJ, I want so badly to ask her how she managed things with me (at the tender young age of 22) and she isn’t there to ask. I’m sure that I worry about my baby dying far more than is normal, because I know that you can do ALL the right things, and sometimes the people you love are still taken from you.
I wonder what she would have been like as a grandmother. If this bitch of a thing called cancer had never existed, she would be a fully-fledged social worker by now. Or maybe not. While it had been her plan to get into health & medical advocacy for migrant families, I wonder whether she would have leant in that direction had she not been through so many medical procedures herself. She was a brilliant academic; maybe CJ and I would have been visiting her at the University of Auckland Epsom Campus when she had spare time in between teaching lectures. She would have absolutely loved being nana to a boy, I know that much. Three girls meant that the estrogen was running high in our house growing up. She would have loved doing science experiments with him as he grew up; probably feeding him far too much sugar as she made sherbet with him and taught him about carbon dioxide reactions.
Still, I know she wouldn’t want me to dwell on the “what might have been”. I talk to CJ frequently about his angel nana and I hope that as time goes on, and he has more comprehension of what that means, that other people feel like they can share their stories about her too. Those of us left behind have many memories that will go some way to helping him understand the wonderful woman she was. The quote that I serendipitously found back then means just as much now:
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
-Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
I can’t protect my heart. I couldn’t protect it from loving my mum and now, with CJ, it’s like my heart exists outside of my body. No one knows how long we have in this crazy world and there are always going to be things left not done. It’s up to me to enjoy the beautiful moments with my family & friends and taste all the apples I can while I can.