The third anniversary of my mom’s passing is just a few days away on February 2nd. I’ve written one (near) fiction piece about her since she passed. A gentle alteration of events, a slow walk in my mind through strings of thought and a need to explore my feelings…
The Eulogy & the Fly
I’d sat on the cold, hard floor of my mother’s hospital room for the past five days writing her eulogy. It was a good and appropriate un-comfortableness, I thought.
I wrote through the titles of her life: daughter, wife, and mother. It was long, as eulogies went, especially for what some would have deemed an unremarkable life.
I can’t stop writing; trying again, and failing, to reconcile the mother I’ve known all my life with the mother I’ve always looked for. Like a tricky shadow, she’s eluded me each time I thought I’d managed a glimpse of the other woman, something that would connect with the restlessness deep within me.
Most viewed her as an open book. Her love of life, music and family shone through her infectious smile and optimism. No moment was too simple in her eyes to make extraordinary. Storms became magnificent opportunities to wait from the front window - breakfasts were picnics in the park – days often ended with a bowl of cereal at bedtime at the kitchen table by candlelight.
As a master gardener everything she planted thrived. So when she decided she was done and it was time to leave this world, there was no question in my mind she had the will to make it happen. I knew she’d put to use the strong, passive aggressive approach she applied to every task. There’d never been any such thing as a battle of wills with her. She always won. Five short days ago she was home in her glider and today she lay in a morphine coma, her final task almost complete, completely orchestrated by her design.
A fly landed on the edge of my laptop. He inched across the screen, and I pictured the words through his eyes, a prism of a hundred angles playing off each other, affording him a glimpse to see between and beyond the words I’ve written. Could he see the life I know nothing of – the secrets, the desires, the shame and joy she’d known? Were there any of the doubts and fears that I dealt with everyday in my life there to connect us?
As the days had passed and she’d become a shadow of her former self, I found myself already mourning the woman I didn’t know more than the one I did. There was nothing in my pages and pages of words that revealed her private self. The one that haunted me that I’d always dreamed she’d someday share.
I’d never told her I didn’t believe her life. A life of complete happiness, of total contentment. Sometimes when she couldn’t know, I’d stare hard at her, willing myself to see beneath the exterior she presented to the world. But she remained buttoned up tight. Inpenetrable. It was an exhausting process, to reject the person she was, but necessary. How else was I to live with the failure of never achieving her kind of grace?
I reached out for the fly, tried to capture him, to claim what he saw. Like her, he eluded me and flew away, taking her secrets and my last hope with him.