During the last conversation I ever had with my Mama eight years ago, she mouthed the words “I’m sorry” over and over again. She had a trach tube as the COPD from the Pall Mall reds, no filter she smoked since she was 13 caught up with her and she could no longer speak. I’ll never forget the look of absolute desperation in her eyes as she repeated herself. I smiled, looked her straight in the eye and told her, “You were the best Mama I could ever have. There’s nothing to be sorry about.” We both knew that was only partially true. She was the best Mama I could ever have. But, as in all families, mistakes are made…and in our family of dysfunction, some of these mistakes were more severe than in other families. My Mama owned some of these mistakes that were never admitted to but it that moment…but it didn’t matter. Uttering those words as much as she was able to, we were both released at that moment, Mama of her flaws and me, letting go of all she asked forgiveness for. When I came home from the hospital that night, I told my husband that I had the last visit I would ever have with my Mama. He asked how it went. I told him that we watched Everybody Loves Raymond and that she told me she was sorry. “For what?” he asked. I said I didn’t ask. I just forgave her. “Isn’t not knowing going to bother you the rest of your life?” No, I don’t think so.
Eight years later, it still hasn’t bothered me, the not knowing. Events over the past few years, culminating in strange visitors giving credence to recent revelations helped me realize why; I believe I’ve always known…I just didn’t realize I knew.
Throughout my life, I’ve been haunted by demons, some external, some internal, some known and some buried in my unconscious mind. I’m a fighter. A survivor. Always have been. Most of the time, I see it as a point of pride. Sometimes, it’s lonely because people just assume that I’ll “figure it out and be just fine.” This year I made a scary but important decision regarding my career. I decided to change real estate offices. I went from a well-known, long established boutique office to a Canadian-based franchise whose name is very new to my local marketplace. Weighing everything out, this was the best possible decision I could make for my family. I stand by this decision even though success isn’t coming as rapidly as I had hoped (but when does it ever). Like so many others, the end of the year finds me in a time of reflection. What can I do differently to improve? What is holding me back? Also like so many others, my biggest obstacle is myself. Those damn demons. So as I set my goals and wrote my business plan, last week I prayed to my Mama. I prayed for her to help set me free from those demons that are weighing me down like anchors tied around my ankles so I can finally be free and focused on realizing my full potential for myself and my family.
On Friday night, those three strange visitors came knocking at my door. An ugly truth about my childhood was revealed. Even though it was too late to do anything about it, the visitors gave me acknowledgement. And with that, the chains that tied an anchor to my ankle became a little looser. I can feel my foot wriggling out already. It amazes me that learning something so horrific that occurred over 30 years ago can be simultaneously nauseating and liberating.
Then at 1:10 a.m. this morning, I received a message from someone I never met that has priceless information for me. Answers, at least in part, that I have been seeking since I was a child. And with that, the chain that tied the anchor to my other ankle became loose enough for me to start wriggling out.
In what was an eventful year, I do believe the impact of these last few days is what I will remember most. They are significant not only in that they represent freedom but that they illustrate that when you allow yourself to be truly vulnerable and ask for help, it is surprising who answers the call…and how.
I love you Mama. As the years go on without you, I am understanding you more and more and feel your loss deeper and deeper. I wish I had a little more time with you. But now you are protecting me in ways you were never able to before. I promise you, as we embark upon a brand new year, I will honor that gift by living to my potential and beyond.
Here’s to an astounding 2014!