I took a lengthy hiatus from this blog in late May, when my mother passed away. Her death was unexpected and hit me hard, and I found myself feeling utterly depleted of creative energy. A few of my friends (and my therapist!) asked about the blog, and how it was going. I explained that I’d stopped writing after mom died, and they understood. However, I am gradually learning how writing— for me— is a self-affirming and healing act. How it gently uncovers truths that were lying in wait. And so here I am.
My mother was beautiful, no question. Auburn curls, almond-shaped brown eyes, willowy limbs, and a smile that dazzled. I could write an entire post on her bone structure alone— those cheekbones! A mile high. On the outside, she’d been blessed.
But the inside was a different story. When I was 12, Mom had a psychotic break, and was later diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. She was also an alcoholic and addict. I think, as is often the case, she used substances to try and deal with her mental illness.
I spent a whole lot of time being angry at her for ruining her life. When she died, my anger melted away, and I found some compassion for her struggle. I only wish I could have helped her, but that’s another blog post (for another blog). For now, I’ll simply make a list of beautiful things I remember about her:
Her generosity, her huge heart, her silk shirts and dress pants, her gold and amber jewelry, her Coco scent as she kissed me goodbye on her way out the door, her Woolite scented, scratchy turtleneck sweaters, her unique, contagious laughter, her french cooking, her love of Jane Austen and classical music, her passion for beauty.
These are the sensory cues that happen when I think of her, and I believe she’d want it that way. To remember her before her illness, as the vibrant, intensely loving being she was, is to honor her memory in the most beautiful way possible. My mother, for all her demons, passed on to me an appreciation for the things that make life more beautiful: art, music, fashion, and a joie de vivre that I’ll never forget.