Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day (2015)

Case here - in honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd share what I wrote last year but left unpublished.

Here we are at Mother’s Day, a month after Wanda’s passing. Life has seemingly returned to normal - a new normal with a large absence. Sophie and I live far away, so we didn’t feel the physical & tactile presence of Wanda every day, but we felt her energy. We talked on the phone most days and FaceTime’d once, maybe twice a week. I’d send her pictures of our son. We were very close. I could go on about how the last days with her were or how the past month has been, but there’s one thing that has struck me about the whole thing, and that is the power of shared experiences and the power of togetherness and friendships.

It’s easy to look at losing a mom from a selfish point of view - the point of view where no one in the world has experienced such a loss as you just experienced. For me, it’s very easy to think that way because my mom and I were very close - like best friends. However, by listening to those around me I have come to accept that you really can’t quantify loss. I’ve heard grown men in their 60s tell me about how they still have moments of thinking “I should ask mother about this.” I had another friend take me aside when I got back to Israel and tell me about his own experience of losing his mother - about the pleasant dreams with her in them, about the sadness his siblings have felt, and about the general suckiness of the whole situation. The feeling that I’m not alone in the feeling of sadness has served as a comfort to me and, in some strange way, has made me feel more connected to the greater world around me - like it’s reminded that I am a cog in the human condition.

When Wanda had her stem cell transplant, I was able to take about 2 months off of work. She needed someone to be there for about 100 days after the transplant and the clinic told us that it was best if that could be a single person. Between myself, my dad, and my sisters, we couldn’t string together that many days of consecutive coverage, so we did the best we could and called on a few friends to spend a week with her. I think Wanda had two reasons to hate this. The first is that she was worried that something terrible would happen and her friends would be in a position to make life or death decisions for her, and who wants to do that? The second reason was just that she wanted things to be different. She wanted her kids to live closer. She wanted her husband to be able to keep track of everything and be able to just take 3-4 months off of work. Eventually, she gave in and accepted the graciousness of the friends and I don’t think she ever looked back. This last time around, she still disliked having to depend on other people to take her around, but from all that I know of what she told me on the phone, she didn't really dislike it, she just felt that she had to say that she disliked it. You know, like when you have friends over and you feel the need to say "sorry the house is a wreck" even though you just spent an hour cleaning it, it's spotless, and your friends actually live in a barn. In her last year, she embraced and cherished the alone time she got with so many of her long-time friends. Thank you all.

Happy Mother's Day!