I am dangerously close to another birthday. For all intents and purposes, this is a good thing, you know, compared to the alternative. And this year has not been too bad! Good things are happening, the most security I have had since I was a kid, that counts for so much.
But the sadness comes every year with the birthday, and I have to breath through it and acknowledge. This marks 23 years of birthdays without my mom. I have lived more of my life without her than with her. That is a profound statement. I don't even know that I miss her anymore. How terrible is that? I miss her at significant moments, my birthday, when I see examples of mother-daughter relationships on the cusp of changing into an adult relationship. That special time in a mother-daughter relationship where the daughter finally drops her teenage angst and starts to appreciate her mother for her life experience and love. I almost had that, almost. Just not quite.
Just not quite. Never has "not quite" felt so vast. There is no chance of closing that gap. Ever. And there is no relationship that would ever replace that one. I suppose if I had a grandmother or aunt who I was close to, maybe that would be similar, but that wasn't the case with me. Not that I didn't have a grandmother or aunts (yep plural), who could have forged those types of relationships with me, but they didn't. They didn't seem to care much. Totally different issue I suppose, because as an aunt, I can't even FATHOM not fostering that relationship. Nonetheless, there it is, kind of like a black hole.
You can't really do anything with a black hole, they just exist. You kind of get the feeling that if you enter into it you will never really make it out. So there I sit, in the middle of this black hole of an almost relationship, 23 years and counting.
What would our relationship be like now if she were still alive? 23 years of a relationship navigating new waters. 23 years of confidantes, 23 years of taking her for granted, 23 years of disagreements, 23 years of growth, 23 more years of love and support. 23 years of unsolicited advice and mother meddling. 23 years of a role model in careers, family, life.
23 used to be one of my favorite numbers, you know, Michael Jordan and all. I think I have outgrown that. What else have I outgrown? I don't even really know since I became an adult in one sweeping moment, that moment she died. Any and all frivolous notions of self-centered adolescence disappeared in that moment, and truly I had no idea. It disappeared with the moon on the night of July 2nd, replaced by the sun I watched rise on the new day of July 3rd, and never returned. I sat in the cab of that truck and watched the starts until the sun came up strong and vibrant and pushed away the moon and any clinging pieces of childhood that remained. It was a baptism I was unaware of, the washing of the old and the rushing in of the new. But this new adulthood came with mid-life responsibilities attached. I was sucked into the tumultuous current in the ocean of survival and I didn't even know I had been at the beach.
I dreamed of her the other night. She had hidden things for me in her childhood apartment, but I couldn't find them because that apartment had been demolished. And I looked and looked and it just didn't make sense. She showed me the apartment and all of her childhood hiding spots but I just couldn't get there. It was painful, so close, and yet impossibly far. Another gap that can never be closed, it will remain forever gaping. How does one go through life with 2 such gaping holes in their soul for 23 years? When I stop to think about it, it seems rather remarkable. And perhaps quite telling.
So, I don't miss her everyday like people say after they have lost a significant loved one, I can't handle that kind of pain. I miss her sometimes, but I feel the holes always. Deep, dark, unending, open, and wide.