A year ago today, my Mother took her last breath on this earth.
This day has been coming towards me like a tsunami for a year now.
Tsunamis aren’t like that.
Tsunamis just come barreling towards you; they roll right over you and they take you under.
You’re lucky if you get out alive.
Death is like that; especially a sudden one like my mother’s was; and her grief has been like that too.
I wondered when she died on November 30th of last year how I would even manage one day on this Earth without her.
I had never known the Earth without my Mother on it.
I came from her.
I grew inside of her.
I lived inside of her.
I emerged from her.
I lived outside of her.
I lived with her.
I moved away from her.
I held her inside of me.
Carried her around in my heart.
I still do.
It was 4 months after her passing when I realized that I had stopped counting the days.
It was 6 months after her passing before I stopped trying to dial her phone number.
It’s been a year.
And a Hell of a lot has happened in this year since her death.
But I have watched the tidal wave of grief approaching for a year, and I have been mindful of it.
It is here. Today. And I am Not going to be bowled over by it.
I am going to let it wash over me.
It has rolled over me multiple times in the past 6 weeks since my daughter Lucy was born, and it threatened to drown me many times.
It pulled me under and tried to drown me when I was bleeding out in the hospital after Lucy’s birth.
It smashed me down and sucked at my hair and pulled me deeper into its underbelly in Lucy’s postpartum when all I wanted was my Mom, and she was Dead.
I didn’t let Grief win then, and I won’t let it now.
I will respect it, and I will acknowledge it, but I will not wallow in it today.
My Mom lived an Amazing life.
I refuse to let 68 years of colour and joy and light be contained in this one sad day: the day on which Naomi Anne MacLeod happened to draw her last breath.
So far today, I have:
⁃ Woken up in the same bed as my firstborn (she is sick and needed some extra love last night, so I slept beside her)
⁃ Taken her to school
⁃ Came home and made a tea.
⁃ Settled down to write this blog beside a sleeping Lucy; at which point she woke up and started screaming and fussing. At first I was pissed; I wanted to write this blog. I wanted to drink my tea warm. This was supposed to be ‘My’ quiet time, Goddamnit.
And then I laughed at my ridiculousness and snuggled into Lucy’s cries.
And then I fed her milk and had a nap with her on the couch instead, because That is mothering, and That is what my mother taught Me.
My Mom was Not perfect.
I am not about to say all these loving and wonderful things about her to the internet community and raise her up as the Best Mom Ever, because she wasn’t.
None of us are.
But we all do our best, with what we were given.
My Mom was an alcoholic who made many mistakes.
But before that, she was a little girl.
She had already lived a million lives before she had me- and who am I to say what she Should have done or what she Could have done to be a ‘better’ Mom.
I’m not qualified to offer those opinions, nor do I care, because what I have left of my Mom are my memories with her.
When I was trying to write this post earlier, and got pissed that Lucy needed even More of my attention than I had already given her this morning;
I thought of my Mom.
My Mom was Not your bake-sale, school council, neighbourhood-hangout, backyard-pool kind of Mom.
She was her own kind of Mom, and I Love her for that, and especially for the legacy it has left me with as a Woman, and as a Mother.
For example- when I was still tiny enough to be in a car seat, so, somewhere back in 1986 or 1987, my Mom was the speaker at a woman’s pro-choice rally, and she brought me with her to the speaking event.
So there she was, this tiny spitfire woman, yelling in anger about ‘our bodies, our choices’ ra ra ra, at an event Full of pro-choice women and various media there to cover the event, with a baby in a car seat in front of her at the podium.
Her un-aborted baby.
And that really fucked people up.
Here was this ‘militant’ feminist woman, shouting about abortions and how abortions should be available to all.
She’s angrily shouting things like ‘the government has no business in the wombs of the nation!’
And she’s brought her baby with her to the event.
And she’s a housewife.
A married, stay at home, housewife.
With two daughters.
And that’s just one of the things I love about her.
She was Never one to shy away from speaking the Truth; her truth.
I have borrowed that from her.
Learned that from her.
Am passing that on to my girls.
I Love that her death made me Want to have another child.
I wanted to give Sadie a sister;
Like my Mom gave Sarah and Victoria and I each other.
I never wanted kids.
I don’t think my mother really did either.
When she had her first child, she Sucked at it.
She was so terrified of motherhood, she basically ran away from it, for years.
I have No Doubt that she Always Adored the everloving Everything out of her firstborn daughter Sarah- my sister- but she was young, and she was scared, and she was selfish, and she basically ran away from motherhood.
When she had my sister and I, 10 and 11.5 years later, respectively- she was older. Maybe more ready? Who knows?
But she chose- again- to bring life into the world and I’m so glad she did.
My birthday is January 17th.
Hers was January 18th.
She used to joke to me how her birthday present every year was cleaning up after my birthday party.
And for years- it was.
And I never noticed.
I never noticed that the morning after any of my school-aged, sleepover-party birthdays, and there were many of these-
My mother- who had just woken up to her Own birthday- woke up, pulled herself together and made pancakes and bacon and poured juice into little cups for me and my friends.
For the rest of her special day, she took down streamers and cleaned up sleepover blankies and put the house back to order for her birthday, every year.
Now that I’m older- I see that for what it was.
One more gesture in the line of a million where a mother gives up something of her own for the sake of her children.
Another favorite memory I have is when I was in third grade and sick with something.
Maybe the flu, maybe strep, who knows.
All I remember is that it was after dinner (that I had refused to eat cuz my throat hurt).
It was after Vic and I’s bath time. It was after story time and it was dark.
It must have been 8 pm at least.
And I was still sick and miserable.
Mom was smoothing my hair back on my pillow.
She asked me if there was Anything she could do to make me feel better.
And I looked up at her with my little watery, whiny eyes and said: “you could make me my Favorite sausagey noodle thing.”
Her jaw dropped.
It was my favorite meal of hers.
Some weirdass combination of cut-up breakfast sausages, diced onions and peppers, covered in stewed tomatoes and Italian seasoning and served on a bed of egg noodles.
It was past 8 pm and she had Just finished cooking, serving and cleaning up a whole other meal to the rest of her family- one that I had refused to eat.
She looked Exasperated.
She looked at my sad and hopeful little sick-kid face-
And she went downstairs and she made it for me.
I ate it that night somewhere around 9 pm, in my bed, with her beside me, patting my leg.
Best meal I ever ate.
That’s who my Mom was.
She wasn’t the Best.
She wasn’t perfect.
Some days- she was Far, far from it.
But what do we have when someone leaves this earth?
We have our memories, and we have they way they made us feel.
My Mom made me feel special.
My Mom knew when I had a new crush.
She knew that I was obsessed in elementary school with Corey Bowen.
She knew that I wrote him secret love notes that I never gave him and hid around the kitchen in various places instead; she knew that I loved him because he had one brown eye and one eye that I described as purple.
(Corey- if you’re reading this now- now you know about my secret crush; and your wife Susan looks absolutely wonderful- congrats on your beautiful family.)
My Mom and I had a special kind of cackle-laugh together that even when I moved away from her and we weren’t as close anymore, we would tell each other something Ridiculous that we had read in the news, or the storyline of a movie we had just watched and we would start to do that cackle.
When that cackle started, there was one note- one special pitch- that one of us would hit and I Knew that one of us would end the call by pissing their pants.
My Mom was a Riot.
She was a ridiculous person.
She danced and sang and flitted about and cackled and told outrageous stories.
She drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney and had Giant hands and the world’s stinkiest feet.
She loved hard and fast and deep, and anyone who was ever lucky enough to be loved by her knows just how lucky they were.
I asked Mom once, after I had had Sadie, if she could do it all over again in the next life-
Would she have children, or would she just have more dogs?
She didn’t skip a beat.
‘More dogs,’ she said.
And we cackled and cackled until we almost peed.
That’s why I love my Mother.
That’s why I miss her.
She told it Straight like it was.
And she was right when she said ‘more dogs’- children are Fucking Hard work.
They’re so needy and wanty and demanding. Physically and emotionally and mentally, they demand So much of your time and energy, especially in the younger years. And the job is largely thankless.
So this morning when I wanted to write this commemorative piece about my Mom, and Lucy hijacked my moment, and I ended up snuggling into her and falling asleep for a few hours instead- the irony was not lost on me.
I wanted to write something about my mother, about how she taught me how to mother, and I couldn’t find the time to write it, because I was too busy mothering.
Mom- I know you know that I love you.
I know you know that I miss you.
I know you know that you lived your life well, and to the fullest, and that you wouldn’t want me to spend this first anniversary of your death wallowing around in sadness.
So I won’t.
But please- if you’ve read this far and you have a Mom that you can still hug, or still call, or even if you can’t because you’re like me and your Mama is gone now-
Please just take a moment, however you can, to say thank you to your mother.
Thank you, Mom.
I Love you.