Puzzle I Never Solved

Yesterday would have been my mom's 67th birthday. She passed away 3 years ago. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. I know that's so cliche, but it's true.

Our relationship was a complicated one . We were very different people. She valued things, appearances and other peoples' opinions. I valued connections, people and what was right. She was controlled by others. I was controlled by my convictions. She made my life terribly difficult after I came out and I made sure to return the favor. Even with all that, I never gave up hope that maybe one day we'd have the relationship I always desired even though I sincerely did not understand her. She was a conundrum in many ways. Generous in some instances, cruel in others. Sharp and aloof. Superficial with glimmers of realness. A puzzle to me.

Shortly before my mom passed, I had distanced myself from my family because, frankly, their toxicity was detrimental to my health. I had finally realized that self preservation was more important than appeasing others who had no interest in my well being….even if I was related to those others by blood. So I took a break.

Shortly after that break started, my mom became gravely ill. She had been battling kidney failure and got the flu. The flu turned into pneumonia and she had to be put on a ventilator. When I heard she had been admitted to the ICU, I got on the first plane to see her. I spent day and night with her while she slowly drifted out of this world. I sat with her, rubbed lotion into her hands, reminisced, read to her, and told her my feelings about our relationship. She couldn't respond, but I knew she could hear me.

I've learned so much since losing my mom…about myself, about her, about life. And every year on her birthday, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what to feel. That's not a new thing since she's gone though. Because of our strained relationship, I didn't know how to feel on most of her birthdays. It's strange because my family was dysfunctional to the point of psychosis, but I miss my mom.

I always had this wish that somehow I'd be able to get her away from the things that controlled her so strongly, namely her older sister who called all the shots and her twisted idea that money was the most important thing…or maybe I wished that just maybe, she'd finally realize that my sister and I mattered more to her than any of those things. But that never happened. It never had the chance to happen.

Anyway, happy birthday to my mom who in spite of it all will always occupy space in my heart and mind…and perhaps will always be the most important puzzle I never solved.


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