The first anniversary of my mother’s passing. Is it weird that I feel guilty about feeling happier today than I did a week ago? Meaning, even as this year has been one of the saddest of my life, the first year without my best friend in the whole world, my mother, at the same time, it has made me stronger, more confident, and more grateful for the life I have left to live. There are days when I am ecstatic: my dancing continues to improve, my family is flourishing, I’ve married the man of my dreams and somehow ended up with two of the best children I’ve ever met – I still forget to call them “step-children” as I love them so dearly – they may as well be my own.
Then, somewhere in the background, a nail scratches on the blackboard of my memory. My mother is gone. She isn’t here to see any of this. I can’t call her to tell her what happened in ballet class today. And sometimes, I wonder if she’s relieved. Did she get bored of my phone calls? Did she ever just want to say “who cares about you, I am fighting for my life here!” She kept her illness hidden for a long time. I suspected towards the end, but she denied and denied right up until it was too late to talk. We never had a chance to have a proper goodbye.
I did get to feed her ice chips for a day, keeping her cool and hydrated in that hospital bed. I didn’t realize it would be the last day. We were told we had a few months. Not a few hours. I won’t share what she said that night, as I lay next to her, drifting in and out of consciousness. I felt like that disciple that feel asleep the night before Christ’s crucifixion. I should have been wide awake. I should have been praying with every fiber of my being! I should have…
But, all I could think was, “at last, my mom is getting some sleep. She seems peaceful. Let her rest. Leave her be.”
Every time I dance, I hope she is watching, or, if she has better things to do like visit her own mother or our old dog Rowsby Woof, I hope she pops in once and awhile to see what’s happening. I truly do hope there is an afterlife – if only to hug her one more time, clog around the kitchen one more time, sing Willy Nelson’s version of “Georgia” one more time.
I know this story is not original. It happens every day, every hour, every minute: parents die. People die. But man, there is no way to comprehend the feelings that come with this passing until you go through it yourself. I guess I still have a lot of questions, a lot of emotions, and a lot of sadness. I hope that, above all, when I go in to class and rehearsal on Monday, the pianist won’t play Chopin or Debussy. I think I’ll lose it.
Then again, maybe I’ll dance like I’ve never danced before – for Mom.