26 April 2009

My mother

A few years ago during my time at Vassar, my mom became very ill. I am not going to go into detail here for the sake of her privacy. I will however share my side of the story and my experience of the situation.
Side note: I am not avoiding catharsis as I have previously written about it, but I know my mom would appreciate knowing that her situation was not broadcast to my class (and likely others). On to my story:

I was living in New York and I hated it. Well . . . I must partially rescind this comment. I did not hate all of New York. In fact, I loved Brooklyn, Ny; I simply did not fit in socially at the school that I was attending. I found that I had very different values, and I felt that I could not get past the gleaming shields that everyone held up to announce their family legacy and to protect themselves from any real human friendship or interaction. The goal was to add titles and pride to your shield to build up this protective advertisement that presented a skewed view of yourself to others and made it impossible for anyone to penetrate it. Anyhow, I'm getting myself into what is a whole story in itself. To make it slightly more brief, I will summarize. I had wonderful experiences at Vassar that I would never trade for anything, and I smile when I think back on them. My point is to explain my feelings of disconnect and confusion through all the experiences, both good and bad..

One day, sitting in my dorm room, I received an email from my dad saying that my mom had checked into the hospital for a few days. A couple of weeks ago he had mentioned that she had been dealing with some problems, but he had made it seem very insignificant. Though he seemed to be keeping me abreast of all that was going on, I felt that I wasn't getting the whole story. It was as if he was protecting me from information that would potentially cause me grief. I appreciate the intent; however, it was far more painful not to know the full extent of what was going on. Being on the other side of the nation, I felt helpless. Once my mom was in the hospital for a while and decisions had been made, he told me everything about what was going on. I remember thinking that I might not see my mom again. I remember sitting at my desk crying and just wishing I could take the next flight home to see her and take care of her. Because that wasn't an option for me, I wrote her this poem and my sister read it to her in the recovery room after she woke up from surgery.

It's strange to think that I once thought my parents immortal; I thought they were impervious to everything. I've seen tragedies in other families, but tragedy is something that you always think won't happen to you.
Seeing my mom go through this changed our relationship. I am so different from my mom, and our interactions have always been a little tenuous (and still are). Like Kate Wolf said, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." Though I didn't lose my mom, I treat her differently, and she treats me differently.
Here's the piece:

To the black hawk of dawn,
Watching over the earth.
To the Mother of strength,
Who gave me birth.
To my angel of life, my beautiful one,
Who sleeps with the moon and rises up with the sun.

To the passionate woman,
Of sharpness and poise.
To the Mother of purpose,
Who gives me joy.
To my angel of life, my beautiful one,
Who sleeps with the moon and rises up with the sun.

To the Mother of harmony.
To the Mother of diligence.
To my Mother of great peace and solitude.

To the Mother born in autumn,
Amidst the color and crisp air.
Amidst falling leaves and blue-sky days,
You bring the mark of a new pattern,
A new cycle, a new outlook - enlivened.
You bring replenishment and vitality,
And sweet winter happiness.

To the Mother who brings all.
To the Mother of care.
You are mine; you are my Mother.

No comments: