10 June 2011

A birthday letter to my mom

Dear Mom,

I noticed yesterday that it was your birthday. Somehow I thought the day would have more of an impact on me or make me sad. But I reminded myself that you decided to die and so you weren't here to see how beautiful the day was and how the lilacs were in bloom.

I thought of you in bits and pieces throughout the day. I remembered how you said you missed having birthday parties where the cake was brought in from another room and everyone would sing "Happy Birthday". I remembered how you would make our birthdays a bit more special than any other day of the week, we didn't have to do chores and we got to pick out a meal for dinner. And you would make that meal, no matter what. I've carried that tradition onto my family now. Only they get to pick a restaurant or a specially cooked dinner as eating out is sometimes what they want instead of a home cooked meal.

I didn't remember that you were dead right away when I realized the date. As soon as I saw my handwriting saying '09 June' I was filled with a sense of dread. It's customary in our family to phone the person on her birthday to say hello and wish her well. But I didn't like doing that with you because I would inevitably feel worse instead of better for having made the call. You were simply too unkind and I allowed your meanness to eat away at my well being.

And that right there is my biggest regret in our relationship. Now I think I understand you better, now that my mind is clearer. I was blinded by my own troubles before to bother noticing you were hurting and that I could help. Now I wonder if I had simply taken the time to hear you, to see you, to let you know that you matter to me, regardless of how you would react, would we have had a better relationship? Did you feel like you had no value? Did you feel like you were worthless and needed to hurt others before they hurt you? If I had taken the time to mirror you, validate you and really hear you, would you have evolved into a different kind of mom? It's too late now, I know. I hope you are heard where you are now.

I hate what the Seroquel did to you. It kept you enveloped in an addictive impenetrable fog and I feel it contributed to the loss of you. Before you started taking it we had a decent relationship. Not perfect by any standard, but I enjoyed you and was able to overlook your oddities. The Seroquel numbed you from my perspective and seemed to release the brake on the negativity and meanness. In order to protect myself I had to put some distance between us, I hope you understand that now.

I hope you understand that I loved the core of you, the one that occasionally saw me as a good person, the one that could create beautiful knitting, tatting, crochet and quilts. The one that cuddled my boys when they were infants, the one that laughed at the silly things in life, the one that shared my sense of humour, the one that loved my dad. Please understand that I didn't love the shell of you. The one that put wedges between my sisters and I, the one that instilled a sense of paranoia in me, the one that blamed other people for her troubles, the one that said cruel things to elevate herself, the one that refused to allow herself to be helped by anyone.

I miss you sometimes mom. I also am grateful to have you removed from my world so I can begin to heal myself.

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Sylvia,
Happy Birthday to you

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