I’m sure she didn’t think I was perfect. But like mothers everywhere, she made me think she thought I was.
I know she didn’t have a favorite child. But again, since I walked on water, I must have been. Right! No, but I…..
Aside from my father, who had died ten years earlier, she was the only person in the world who cared about every single thing I did or thought. Unlike my father she wasn’t “nosy.” She knew if I wanted her to know she would know. And she knew about more things than I or anybody told her. It was her motherly-sixth-sense.
It will be fifteen years in October since she fell and died fifteen minutes later. If you were alive and lived, well anywhere, fifteen years ago, you know what happened the month before.
I lived in Manhattan; she lived on the Queens/Nassau border. When my brother in law called at 3:30AM he didn’t have to say anything. There’s only one reason people, not random drunks, call at 3:30AM.
When I got into the cab as soon as daylight broke, I knew, just knew, I couldn’t tell the cabdriver that I was in massive grief.
I’m adopted yet I felt the umbilical cord fall off.
On the ride to Penn Station’s Long Island Railroad a place I know backwards, forward and probably inside out, I thought about an article I had recently read in The New York Times. It had said that family members of people who died around the time of the attacks, but not in the attacks, in NYC, felt cheated because others thought their grief wrong.
I thought the article interesting but I didn’t understand it. How could I? It didn’t affect me until it did. I couldn’t find it but I remembered who wrote it. I got in touch with him. He couldn’t find it either.
One more stake in the back. There were so many.
Later I understood how crazy people were then. Later I understood that all the grief counseling programs were for family members––including fifth cousins three times removed who had met their family member once—when they were in kindergarten, because every other grief seemed so minimal. And the money went to grief programs for people associated with the attacks.
I offered to lead a group for people like me as I was a licensed social worker with much grief experience. I could have worked as a grief counselor but I was so screwed up. I knew I would be jealous of the people I was helping.
(The offers came in a jumble on the day of my mother’s funeral—two days after her death. I knew I might kill myself if I took one of those jobs. Then I thought I could get help in supervision. I just wanted to talk about my mother. I wanted to feel love. To eventually feel whole again. But I was so jealous of the survivors for not having to feel horrible for grieving.)
They were getting love, money, trips, ensured futures; people were telling me——within days of my mother’s death not to grieve. It was wrong when there were so many young people who had died. Yes people said such things.
I still don’t talk to those people.
I can’t accept that they said those things because they were crazed. Who in their right mind tells another person not to grieve? I began questioning my own sanity, and how I made friends.
What kind of crazed 50 year old doesn’t understand that it’s the small moments in life that make up the larger whole. The large patchwork quilt my life seemed to be made of was frayed around the edges, and none of the pieces really went together. An argument could be made that my patchwork quilt life was just as good.
But I began to cherish and seek the mundane.
I’m just beginning to love Autumn again. I no longer dream about bodies falling from the Towers with my mother’s face superimposed over the bodies.
I no longer live in the city I was born in; the city that gave me so much.
I no longer miss my mother every day or even every week. She’s always in the background, smiling at me.
I don’t think there’s a heaven but my parents make me want to believe. Not that they did.
I want to tell them how much more I understand now. Yet I understand that’s one of the great ironies of life. Just when we’re ready to really adult with our parents——they’re gone.
I feel so lucky that I knew them when I was an adult even if I wasn’t the adult I am now.
I so hope there are no more terrorist attacks but there probably will be. I hope that a lesson from 9/11 is that everyone is equal. And everyone deserves to grieve. No grief is worth more than any other grief.
I apologize if I have written about this too often but sometimes I need to so that I can go on.