I am still calling her mommy because that is what she was to me when she died just 3 weeks before my 8th birthday.
My mom was manic depressive… something I never really never knew or understood as a kid. What did I know… I knew she got very, very sad – a lot. I knew that she cried easily and laughed so much harder even more. She was loud and brave and filled a room with her huge personality. At 7 everything about her seemed bigger and more glamourous than it likely was… Then she would crash… farther and harder than a child can ever really understand. She slept, she cried, she was angry… but she loved me fiercely.
My mom lost her long fight with manic depression 30 years ago… That anniversary alone was enough to bring this all up for me, but aside from that, my baby girl is in grade 2 this year. She is at exactly the same place in her life as I was when I lost my mom… was I that small.
Mommy, I remember feeling so big and grown up at that point… I remember you were sad and I was trying to be quiet and extra good. I remember you coming in to tell me you were going away for a few days to see Grandpa, and that you loved me so very much. I remember you hugging me so tight, and and kissing my cheeks in that way that only a mom can. I remember loving you so very much – and not realizing that you were really saying good bye to me.
That was a Sunday. I remember that week coming home from school on Wednesday and Uncle Gary picking me up instead of Granny. this was weird because she always came to get me Wednesday’s – that was curling night. I remember there were so many people at home – I remember Dad and Ann sitting me down to talk. I thought Grandpa had died… you were still up North taking care of things.
I was wrong.
You were gone. I couldn’t understand… I couldn’t think… I couldn’t feel.
I didn’t know then what I do now. You didn’t have cancer, which at the tender age of 7 was the only reason “not old” people died that I knew of. You lost your long battle… you didn’t have it in you to fight anymore. You had committed suicide.
I remember Dad was so sad, and so very angry. I think sometimes he still it. I don’t think he knows how to forgive you. I don’t think he can let go of the anger… But I can, and I have.
Mommy, you loved me. You made me feel loved every day of my life. In almost 8 years the memories were so bright and full of life that 30 years later they are still vivid and alive in my heart. You took me to the cottage and we hiked in the woods. You took me on a plane for the first time to Disney World, and posed for pictures with me and Minnie Mouse. You bought us terribly wonderful matching 80’s outfits. You made me feel love. You made me want to be brave. You made me want to be fearless.
Fearless… the word that people still use to describe you. The only thing its seems that scared you, the only thing that you couldn’t conquer, that beat you, was your own mind.
Mental Illness was such a taboo then… it still is. I have had my own battles… but I am winning. I can never judge what you went through. I can never judge what you were up against. I feel so broken and alone sometimes. I feel so dark and scared, but I am still a lot like you, and I am brave and I am tough, and in your honour, I will never lose.
Mommy, I miss you. I love you still, and I think of you all the time. I know you are always with me. I know you would love and welcome the mom that got to raise me in your place, and ensures your grandbabies know the true love of a Grandma hug and kisses.
Mommy I forgive you for leaving me. I know it wasn’t your fault. I know you didn’t have another path and that’s ok. I understand so much more in life now. I know this wasn’t a choice you made. I know your death was not a reflection of weakness, but of sadness. A deep sadness that you couldn’t bear anymore. A sadness so overwhelming you saw no other path. A sadness so deep you felt alone.
You didn’t choose to leave. You didn’t want to leave. I know this. You were sick, and you had as much choice in what happened as anyone else that has left their family behind too soon. In your memory, I will fight everyday. I will be strong everyday. I will hug and kiss my babies and full their life with nature and love. I will be the woman I hope you foresaw when you kissed me goodbye the last time.
With a love always,