Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

I am sitting here drinking a latte at a local coffee shop and thinking about you. If I turn back time what feels like just a few years, this morning would have been spent sitting across from you on that big farm island in the kitchen. You perched on the window side with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, swirls of smoke ghosts drifting through the room.

Your early departure was painful. And I was so angry with you at the time. Your illness was zapping your will, your intention, your honesty, your beauty. Who you used to be was sucked down to nothing like the wine in the bottles your drank. We talked about intervention – but it was like you knew we were about to throw your world into even more chaos and would suddenly be “better”. You always knew so much. Your intuition was intense, your love big, and you were a fantastic friend. I guess I am a bit like you.

It’s been 7 years now and I am finally beginning to celebrate who you were. I cringe at sentimental remembrances that gloss over the realities I lived, but in truth, you were a wonderful, loving mom. I think you taught me my most important life lessons so I think it’s time to say thank you.

Thank you, Mom, for being teaching me kindness. You didn’t hold social status or economics as an encumbrance to friendship. And no one was outside of deserving a chicken enchilada casserole now and then. You worked so hard to hold your tongue when I was snappy and didn’t laugh at my growing up process. Sure you giggled with your friends about it– but you understood that my development was mine.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to try and understand when people are hurtful because we never know what pain they are holding. This affects my work and presence in the world every single day.

Thank you, Mom, for sticking it out with Dad. I adore that man, as you did, but since you’ve been gone, it has become clear that he has just a few tiny issues 🙂 And you carried so much of the family in your heart and actions. You were the glue.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to love wildlife. “Your quail” at the farm tickled you so much. You found joy in small things, and in being touched by the wildness of an animal. I am a mystic, as you knew when I was quite young, and your love affair with beauty helped me feel that it was ok.

Finally, Mom, thank you for making me rub your feet. There is so little a child can do to give to her mom, and this act meant a lot to me. I appreciate the intimacy of that act, of how much it comforted you, and what a sweet (albeit stinky) way to be close. It was true love to ask for and receive a gift like that. (And I am still bothered I couldn’t talk my children into doing the same.) If you were here today, I’d rub your feet with lotion.

There is so much more I could say, but this will have to do. I am not angry with you anymore — the disease of addiction which eventually took your life was something you had so little control over. I have forgiven you.

If it’s ok, I’d like to think about who we were when I was in college. We were close, sharing conversation, laughing at farm talk, and drinking coffee together. I am so grateful for the gifts you gave me including the most important: my very life.

Love you, Mom. Give Grandma a huge hug for me.

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2 Responses to Dear Mom,

  1. Janine says:

    Wow. I could have written this (except for the feet thing). Equally lucky, equally tortured by my brush with my mother’s alcoholism. Angry, devastated and finally able to recapture all the good. My Mom died young, too. I’m older now than she was when her addiction and despair took her from me. Took her from me but also cut me loose from what tortured her and thus all of us.

    Our ancestors – especially the women – these mothers and grandmothers remind those of us of the female gender of their strength, and their love, and their hope. And because we stand on their shoulders, ours, too.

    • shannonbeck2 says:

      Thank you, Janine. Addiction is like cancer. It affects everyone they come in contact with. And I often wonder if my mom had been given freedom to live HER life, things would have been different. I don’t know. She lived as best as she could with what she had.

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