Tuesday, April 26, 2011

life goes on...

another friend of mine died today. a mother of three...her children are gorgeous. married...her husband isn't too shabby either. daughter, sister, friend...all those things. beautiful, funny, caring, strong, smart, compassionate...pretty much your standard amazing woman. much like jeanni.

it is hard to face the sunshine of the day when you know someone amazing has died. but as anne lamott says, we're all terminal on this bus. and i know that. there are amazing people who die everyday. probably every minute. maybe even every second.

but i think about those kids without a mama. a big blank spot where their biggest cheerleader, support, lover, critic, mender, driver, teacher, nurse maid is supposed to be. and i ache.

i'm not sure exactly why i ache though. i mean yes, it is hard to imagine not having my mother...or my stepmother. they're both kind of crazy and nutty...neither of them is a perfect fulfillment of all of those things i just listed. i'm not a perfect fulfillment either. i carry around equal parts determination to be the person i have envisioned in my head and guilt because i'm not. so maybe i ache because i know that in the end, being imperfect is what matters...is what we (as mothers) have to offer and what we (as children) need. so why do i ache?

i know that there are other people who will love my friend's children in her absence. she, like jeanni, was one of those women who taught you things about life that prepared you for her death...that didn't allow you to wallow in despair or hopelessness...to do so only ended up making you feel kind of stupid in the presence of someone with so much vitality and determination and spirit. maybe it was because she had already beaten hodgkin's lymphoma...which she delayed treatment of so she could progress with her first pregnancy and carry her oldest to term. maybe because she'd been a bone marrow donor when her second born was only four months old...to her sister, who had leukemia...and sent that disease into remission. maybe it was because of events i never got to hear the stories of, never got to watch her face while she told them. i don't know. but she made life seem like something great and wonderful and fulfilling...something that even though we never seemed to get quite right, wasn't it delightful trying?...

and a person like that attracts other people like that. when i would visit her facebook page, i would be overwhelmed by the force of the people supporting her. the kind of people who would organize galas or direct girls' schools. they organized and directed prayers for her, good wishes to her, telling her to rest, put her faith in god, everyone to pray. and i did. i still am. i'm sure anyone who read those words did as those women directed. it was good medicine.

and she died today. just like jeanni died in december.

it is humbling to realize that my prayers didn't keep these women alive. it is flat out frightening to realize that their incredible spirits, their intelligence, their beauty, their amazing kids and spouses and lives...that those things didn't keep them alive either. well, i should clarify...didn't keep them alive in body. because i KNOW that they are alive in spirit. in a way i never felt when they were still housed by their bodies. (although, make no mistake, i miss the friends i had here on earth in these women...)

and maybe that's why i ache. because i know we don't have to be here to be here. but we are stuck here...until we're set free to go there...and we always leave part of us anywhere anyone we've loved is. and this is scary. and mixes things up inside of me...things i believe...things i don't realize i believe...things i'm not ready to confront...things i'm comfortable in...things, things, things.

this is definitely one of those times when words fail...when it's better to let things change before i try to identify them, capture them, control them with words.

but i know i love being a mother. and one of the hardest parts of being a mother is raising my kids not to need me, to go on without me, because i know my presence in their lives will always change until eventually i die. and experiencing the death of two wonderful mothers makes the certainty and uncertainty of that truth real in a way that hurts inside.

i love those women...then and now. it is strange to me how much love i feel from them after their deaths. i didn't expect it. part of me feels afraid to allow life to go on as though they haven't left...or as though they were never here...how can we possibly go on without them? but another part of me knows that my understanding of life and what it is is changing...and while it is scary to let go of what i thought i knew...it would be a damned shame to not be changed by the lives and deaths of these two amazing women.

so i will keep going...watching and waiting...


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