Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm Going To Get In Serious Trouble For This One

Feel free to just skip this one - it's late and I'm rambling, and I've just finished chapters 2-4 of a book that should have been called Fifty Times More Tedious (Than My Other Two Piece of Shit Books) in the hope that I could cover their entire honeymoon in one blog post, apparently having forgotten that James narrates every single second of every single day and that the entirety of the book probably only covers the last three days of the honeymoon. I've talked someone else into editing the video for me, but he's quite busy so it will be ready when it's ready and then you can all see me yelling and gesturing at no one. Also, apparently I rest my hand on my chest while I'm reading a lot. It looks like I'm reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. My point is I'm kind of crabby right now, and the rest of this post is kind of crabby as well and likely to make some relatives very, very angry, and I'm just too tired to care.

Today would have been my mother's 64th birthday. I'm feeling guilty about it because I had forgotten until evening, and when I remembered I felt nothing.

I spent a long time getting upset on days like today, but I seem to have stopped around five or six years ago. I also seem to be the only one. My brother did a charity bike race this year in her honor, and the rest of my family had some sort of dinner thing, both to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death. I went to see H-Town in an improv festival instead. The whole thing seemed sort of morbid and arbitrary to me. I'm not sure why people enjoy round numbers so much, or why 20 years should be more important somehow than 19 years or 21.

Six years ago marked the point where I'd spent as much time on the earth after her death as I had before it. I think that's when I realized how much of my life had been defined by losing my mother at 14. That's a pretty shitty experience to make the focal point of your entire life and I got really, really irritated about it, which is why I stopped doing the family stuff surrounding it and stopped reading the inevitable emails I get from family members on the "important" days. I get that a lot of people find rituals important and cleansing and that's great for them, but I'm not one of them. And I'm done now pretending to be someone I'm not. For me, the time to remember my mother has nothing to do with when her birthday is or when she died. I think of my mother at Christmas. Christmas was her favorite holiday just like mine, which is probably because she made it something magical when I was a kid and I never managed to outgrow it (or because I am fascinated by shiny things). And it holds much better memories than her birthday (I don't remember a single one of them) or her death day (fucking TERRIBLE).

I don't really know where I was going with this - like I said, I'm really tired. But it's the best I can do by way of apologizing to my family for not getting wrapped up in The Great Mourning twice a year the way I suppose it makes sense that I'm expected to. It's just not for me. You guys can do what you like, but imma stick with the days that had smiles.


Anonymous said...

My dad died, aged 42, when I was 13. It was a long time ago, and while I am hugely sad that he never knew me as an adult, and never met his grandchildren, I refuse to wallow in the self-pity that people seem to expect from the bereaved. I don't want to weep and wail on particular dates either, I am more likely to think about him when some random event inspires thoughts of him. I'm sure your family are well meaning, but not wanting to take part in a group mourn doesn't mean you don't care. Think of her at Christmas and be happy.

Rozzie said...

If people do get angry with you for this one then that suggests to me they don't understand a) the value of honesty and b) the fact that intense emotions like grief are extremely private and personal and cannot be turned on and off at will or when other people think they should. Celebrate and grieve for your mother in a way that acknowledges the personal relationship the two of you had -- and you may well feel that this is what she'd have wanted anyway.
Stay well

Anonymous said...

I completely understand what you're saying. I'm in the process of losing my mother (she's on hospice currently). As an adult trying to process this, I know that I will try to keep myself busy on anniversaries such as her birthday or the date of her passing, because it would upset me to the point of not being able to function. I also know that come holidays, I'm going to want everyone over my house for a huge feast, because that was always something my mother loved doing. Keeping those traditions alive and remembering happy times in the lives of loved ones helps to celebrate their life rather than mourn their death. I truly believe it's what our loved ones would want for us in the long run. And thank you for posting this - it's nice to see other people who share this philosophy. Also to Rozzie and Anonymous #1 - well said

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Hi Amber, I've been following your reviews of 50 Shades, but kept a low profile before now. I'm just published myself and all kinds of cautious about what I say online! But your posts are awesome, and hugely important, I feel.

I'm lucky enough to still have both parents, but my wife and I lost our first son last year when he was just three days old. It was the most awful, painful thing we've ever gone through. But like you, we grieved, and we deal with the memory in our own way. we would rather remember the love we received from friends and family, both before his birth, and after we lost him. He did more in three days to show us how blessed and loved we are than I've seen many people do with an entire lifetime.

I love that you still hold Christmas with such a special place in your heart. The happy memories are the ones we should hang on to, and it's worth fighting to keep them.