All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

25 takes my breath away.

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Tomorrow will be the 25th anniversary of the death of my mother. Considering that I’m only 33, I have officially spent more than 75% of my life without her. I don’t know how to feel, that’s what makes me concerned.

On a cool January morning, around 5:45 am, my sister and I sat up in the bed and stared at each other’s silhouettes in the dark. We had fallen asleep with our mother the night before and now she was snoring ferociously, it seemed, like she had never snored before. I can’t really recall who turned on the lights. . . I imagine it was my sister since she slept closer to the switch. We tried to wake her, but her face was turning purple and her eyes were rolling back into her head.

We ran upstairs to wake up our brothers. They called 911. I only remember chaos after that. I remember one of my brothers, the younger, putting his head on her chest and crying. It was the first time I saw him cry. Then my father arrived shortly after the paramedics. I caught glimpses of them performing CPR, but there were too many people. I stayed out of the way.

A few hours later, my father returned home again. He mentioned that she had gained consciousness at the hospital, he said he loved her. But then, a doctor knocked on our door, told us she hadn’t survived. (I’m still in awe that the doctor made a personal trip to our house to deliver the news.) It was an aneurysm, brought on from a blood clot that blocked her lungs.

I was only eight. And I would grow up from this moment on.

It isn’t that I lost my mother. I lost a significant portion of my family. A few months after her death, my siblings left me to go live with their father out-of-state. My maternal aunts, uncles, grandparents, with the exception of one, lost touch, never took much interest or made much effort to see me. It was my father and me. I have so little memory of her at all.

I also lost my identity, in a manner of speaking, because I had to improvise my femininity. I picked up learning about my gender and its expectations from friends at school or television. I still struggle with it at times.

For years, I held my anger at God for the circumstance. I was even angry at her, perhaps as if she could have helped it. Then, I imagined that if sadness exists on the other side of our reality, perhaps she is sad and angry, too.

As cliché as it sounds, though, I fumbled my path and found my faith with the help of the Blessed Mother. When I first lamented from my atheistic folly, I wept into her lap, at the foot of the cross. Understanding her joys, her sorrows, made me understand my own and I learned to accept them with an open heart and without shame. I know that many Catholics understand this mystery, but so many that I know do not. It seems so silly from their perspective. But faith, hope, love, patience, obedience, humility, perseverance, temperance, each of them, hers and desirably mine. Each of them repairing my broken heart, preparing me for her son, who seeps in through the cracks and fulfils the abysmal regions of my soul with a brillant flame.

In reflection, my mother gave me a great gift. . . she revealed a narrow path. And with a mother or not, everyone has to find their own and tread it alone.

Rest in peace, mom.


Written by Written Straw

January 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Catholic, Faith, Life

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