On missing my mother


Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window. Mary Cassatt 1902

Thanks for all your good wishes and support after Sunday night’s post. It is so wonderful to know that we aren’t alone – that there is a whole community of women who really get it, who understand when others don’t what it means to forever carry residual anxiety and fear even years after a cancer diagnosis.  I felt comforted and bolstered after reading all your comments and am so grateful for the continued support of you all.

It was only after I had logged off the computer for the night and I was trying to get to sleep that it hit me why I was so upset – I was missing my mother’s gentle, loving, reassurance. I missed being able to pick up the telephone and call her that night and the truth is I have been missing being able to do that every day for the last six months.

Some of you know that my mother was critically ill with encephalitis back in March and we thought we’d lose her. At the time I bargained with God that I wanted to be able to talk to her one more time.  I got my wish. Only problem is I didn’t specify that I wanted to be able to talk to her like I used to.  For while I can talk to her again,  I am not sure how much she understands. The mother I talk to now is not my mother, she is just the outer shell of who my mother was. She is  a confused and frightened child trapped inside a shell, unsure of what is happening in her world.  She has gone to a place inside her mind where I can’t reach her anymore. I hold her fragile hand and stroke it gently and I look into her eyes and I try to see some light there, some sign that she will come back to me. Sometimes I am rewarded with a glimpse of something, a flicker of who she was, but then it dies and the light goes out again. It makes me think of a Shakespearian quote that I learned at school:

Absence from those we love is self from self – a deadly banishment.

I looked up the definition of banished in the dictionary and it means ” to be shut out” ; “to drive out or remove from home” and it seems an apt word. I know that many of you reading this have lost your mothers, many to cancer, some to alzheimers or dementia, and while I have hope that my own mother will be restored to me, my heart still aches for all of us who either temporarily or permanently have lost the companionship and love of our beloved mothers.