Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Year's 2009

This must be the year that couldn't, well maybe it shouldn't have. I keep ranting on and on about how I wish upon a star that New Year's Eve was just around the corner and I could kiss this couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't of year goodbye, yet I anxiously wait in the gallows of my misery for one gleaming moment that would redeem 2009 in my cynical mind. You see, I've lost so much more than I could ever seem to win in just four short months. In the middle of a cold January night, in the haze of a deep sleep, I was awoken by a dreaded phone call. It was the one phone call I was frightened of my whole adult life. It was the dreaded death call, telling me that I lost the one person in my life who was always my biggest fan, my rock of strength and the sweet, natural matriarch of my family. She was my mother and my love for her is profound but now that she's gone my love tastes bitter in the wake of her death. I simply cannot let go of her. Grieving is a horrible 12 step program administered by corrupt guardians and keepers of life's most precious secrets, who trick the grief stricken, leading them astray in our humanly attempts at compartmentalize the death of a loved one. No one can imagine the deep sense of loss and pain that accompanies the death of a parent, especially the loss of a mother. There is an emptiness that can never be satisfied. The finality of your family is overwhelming and disorienting. No matter the age, when the second parent passes, you feel as though you are a misfit orphan with no core or sense of stability that a normal family life offers. I find myself reaching for the phone to call her, trade recipes or simply say 'love ya." Her voice is still on the answering machine at our family home, which is now my home, at least part time. I think that house will help me write the book that's been burning inside me since I was a rough and tumble kid growing up on the boulevard of broken dreams. I am the product of a working class family who lived on the edge of badness, in a neighborhood full of regular people with regular lives but the collective experience of my early years in Albany was not only life altering, it was amazing in the simplest of forms. The people who I was surrounded by during my formative years helped shaped the person that I've become. They are the same people who have supported me during these terrible times, have laughed and cried with me, ate stinky Italian cheese and roasted peppers with loads of garlic and olive oil and drank several bottles of cheap red wine while discussing my mother's hysterical, unbelievable, remarkable legacy in the confines of 442 Manning. That house will always be hers. I cannot bear to part with it. She's in every fiber of that house and when I recently visited, I could feel her presence. It felt like a giant hug from her although her death is still so new, that familiar melancholy feeling whispered to me like a thief in the night. I suppose in time, I will heal and be able to come to an understanding about my mother's death but for now, I cry often, sometimes hard and sometimes soft but I know that my love for her and her for me will always prevail. One day, we'll meet again so I can tell her all the things that I wish I could have told her when she was alive. We always said we loved one another...that's not the problem. I just wish we had that one special conversation where I told her how much she really meant to me. I want to believe that she could tell in my actions and words, in my life as an example but I suppose I'll never know for sure. I wasn't there when she took her last breaths but I believe it's what you do throughout a person's life not what you do at the end that defines your relationship. We were a pair of crazies who sang Depression Era songs and laughed till we cried. The last words I heard her speak was when I called her house in the weeks leading up to her death and although she was too weak to talk to me on the phone, she shouted, "tell her I love her," and then everything became silent. No more long talks about food or too many chefs in the kitchen arguments. No more summer tomato salads with good Italian bread or grilled pizza in the rain. So much of my life is dark now but I can slowly feel the light penetrating through the cracks and crevices of my soul. She is there in the darkness with me, walking in the valley of sorrow leading me closer and closer to my special spot in the sun on our bench in her favorite seaside town.

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