Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tears for my mom


Today would have been my mom's 83rd birthday.  She died a bit over four years ago, on February 11, 2012.  On this blog, I wrote about her death and the week following it.  During the time from her death to her memorial service, I never cried.  At the memorial service, I choked up several times, and a few tears hit my cheeks, but I didn't cry.

I still haven't cried for my mother.

It's not that I don't miss her.  I do, terribly.  It's also not that I didn't love her.  I did, very much.  I still do.

The problem is, I don't cry.  The closest I come is to choke up, get a few tears, wipe them away, and move on.  Many, many different things can cause me to reach that point, but nothing has taken me to full crying since I was eleven.  At that time, when I was in the years of abuse, I vowed not to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me cry, and I stopped crying.  Period.  Something that might make me cry enters me, my emotional shields automatically engage, and that's that.

I expect it might be healthier for me to cry, but at this point I don't know how.

A few weeks ago, I went to a superb Delta Rae concert at the Lincoln Theatre.  As the band hit the first few notes of "Dance In the Graveyards," I realized that I had never danced with my mom.  I immediately ached with that thought, and in the same moment my emotional shields snapped into place.

Leaning against a railing at the Lincoln, in the dark, friends around me but unable to see my face, alone with this tsunami of grief, I decided to try not to block the pain and instead to embrace how much I missed Mom, how much I wished I had danced with her.  I pushed back the shields as much as I could, and I opened myself to the pain as much as I know how.  I listened to the song, which I love, and I thought of Mom, whom I loved so much, and tears rolled down my cheeks.  My self-defense systems fought me, and in the end they won, because I could not full-on cry, could not sob, could not let the grief control my body for even a second, but in that minute, at that concert, listening to that song, I shed more tears for Mom than ever before.

This quiet battle, which matters only to me, passed in the first minute of the song, and then I was myself again, listening to the music and aching for my mother, but distantly, as one does for an opportunity missed long ago.

I thought about that intense minute again today, on Mom's birthday, and I decided to write about it as a belated gift to her, one she cannot enjoy but that at least I have tried to send, a shout into the ether as pointless and yet as heartfelt as those tears.

What we do for people we love once they are gone cannot help them.  I understand this so much better now than I did before Mom died.  If you love people, let them know now, if you can, if you are better at expressing your love than I ever was with my mother, because once they die you will have only tears and pain, and neither will warm them in the cold nights when they wonder, as we all inevitably do, if they are loved.

I love you, Mom.



4 comments:

Mark P said...

Thanks for sharing Mark.

I think many men find it difficult to 'let go'. I have had tears at many funerals but it has never but I have never gone beyond that.

I think Mike and the Mechanics song Living Years sums up your point on not saying you Love close family before it's too late.

Mark said...

Yeah, that song hits that point (and others) well.

Cindy Hyde said...

I believe as she sits in heaven keeping watch over you, she both saw those tears and felt your love. She danced with you in her heart.

Rosanne said...

Your mom knew you loved her and knows it still.

I have always been someone who has cried too readily. I have tried to get tougher the last few years. Each person has their own way.

Take care

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