It’s a week of anniversaries. Three years ago, my mom died. One year ago, my marriage broke up. How did those two things end up in the same week of the calendar? Good fucking question.
Anniversaries get me every time. There’s something about the slant of the sunlight, the earth in the same spot of its orbit, that brings everything rushing back. The smell of whatever’s blooming or whatever’s rotting. The feel of the air.
It’s a week of loss for me. And in this week of loss, in my darkest moments, I’ve thought of my mom. Of a very specific day with my mom.
I was probably nine, I’m guessing. I grew up on a short dead-end street named Friars Lane up high on Mount Tam. We few kids that populated it called it the Lane. We were isolated from the rest of the world (okay, Mill Valley) and we were close-knit. Closest to me was my best friend, Casey. Her first memory is of looking in my crib. My first memory is crying when she had to leave my house to go home. Today, though, on this very specific day, Casey and I were out on the Lane fighting. It didn’t happen much but we were arguing over my new Big Wheel, one of those three-wheeled plastic vehicles. I don’t remember the details but I do remember Casey cutting the ribbons on my handlebars. And I remember swearing at her – someone had a potty mouth even then.
I ran home crying, threw open the front door and yelped, “Mom!” She came running, she sat me on her lap, she stroked my hair, she let me cry.
All this week I’ve been wishing myself back into her lap that day. What I realized today was that was probably the last time I ever cried in her lap. I was a little old for it, a little big for it, and though I wanted her to make my problems disappear, they were my problems to solve. I was swearing at my friend, for Christ's sake; this did not fall under a mother's purview.
And now, when I want to sit with her, just let go and have her take over, I know that even if she were here, even if she was mentally and physically intact, she couldn’t do much for me.
Maybe what I’m feeling is a helplessness. A desired and momentary helplessness. I’ve been working so hard to solve almost insurmountable problems. I am, for better or worse, captain of my own ship. And sometimes I want a moment of “I can’t do it”, my mother’s arms around me, her fingers in my hair, the sound of her voice saying, “Shhhhh. It’s going to be all right.”
They say that every woman wants her mother when she’s in labor, no matter the state of the mother-daughter relationship. They say that every man wants his mother when he’s dying on the battlefield. This week, I really want my mother. I want my mother because I miss her. I want my mother because I’m feeling the magnitude and solitude of divorce. I just want my mother.