I have been thinking a lot about the women who came before me, specifically my maternal grandmother, my mother and the women who came before them. As I wonder and wander about their lives I also think about myself and my relationship with my daughter. The more I mother the more I both understand and don’t understand these women who came before me, who shaped me, who created me. The more I look back the more I understand my Self and have stronger convictions to want to do something different, to create a different life for my daughter and our family.
I remember the last few times I saw my grandmother before she died. She was so sad. She seemed so small, this woman who once seemed so tall and great and strong. I sensed there were words she wanted to say and couldn’t for her own reasons. And I felt the deepest sense of love radiate from her to me, my sister and our mother. When she looked at my mother in those last few months of her life there was such sadness there, and I felt the sadness for the first time wasn’t directed at my mother, but at her self. Thinking back and remembering her face now I wonder if she was grieving all she didn’t do with her own daughter, all the time she wasted, all the kind and loving words she didn’t say. Watching her look at her grown child I felt the grief, though I didn’t understand it yet. It would only be years after her death that my own daughter was born and the complexity of mother-daughter relationships would become so heart-breakingly clear to me.
I remember the last eight months of my mother’s life. Her trip to Seattle at Christmas time to meet with an oncologist. I remember how she held my daughter, only eight months old, and how there was such hope in her eyes as she gazed down at her. I remember catching glimpses of how she looked at me and my baby girl and the longing that lived within her as she watched us in our little bubble. I can only now guess that she too was grieving all that hadn’t been for her and me, all the time that was lost and wasted.
I remember seeing her the weekend of my daughter’s first birthday. I remember her saying to my girl “I may not be here for all your birthdays, and I wouldn’t miss your first for anything in the world.” How prophetic those words would be.
I remember seeing her four months later and my girl playing her cat’s toys as if they were the best in the world. I remember seeing the physical pain within her, how she was trying to hold herself together. How she held my daughter for the last time. How I hugged her, not tight enough, not long enough, for the last time.
I remember seeing her dead body on the hospital bed in the ICU. She died 45 minutes before we arrived from our trip across the state. I remember feeling all the years of abandonment come crashing forth. I remember being somewhat numb and moving into get things done mode and making decisions about where to send her body. I remember my sister wanting me to sit in the room with that dead body and me just wanting it gone, to not touch it or look at it for another second.
I remember the ends of their lives so clearly. I was there, not as they took their final breaths, but as they both came to terms with what never was and what never would be. It is only years later that I understand this more fully now, consciously aware of what they lost or never had and how it has impacted my own ways of being with my girl.
I don’t want to be at the end of my days, looking longingly at my daughter as she holds her own child. I want to be remembering our own bubble, how she and I were the only living beings in our universe. I want to feel proud of the relationship she and I created and not shame for all that I could have or should have done.
I want different.
It is important to remember why I want different. To learn from the past. To not only remember my own pain growing up with these women, the wounds they gave me in this life and to know how it feels to be a young girl at the mercy of the adults. But to also remember as a mother now, and know deep in my bones their own longing and grief for what never was, what never could have been.
And so this spring, I travel down that path into the past, seeking them and the women before them who I never knew. Healing wounds and unearthing strengths. Learning more about who I am, connecting more deeply to my Self and becoming more fully the woman I long to be while accepting and loving the woman I am now.
Join me. xoxo
**Today's blog post inspired by a writing prompt from She of the Wild xoxo **