What Would You Do?
What would you do if you were told you only had six months to live. Unfortunately, people hear that statement every day from their doctors. And in an instant their entire life changes. That is what happened to my mother over thirty years ago. She was only 45 years old. The same age as I am right now, when the surgeon gave her that death sentence.
When I turned 45, there was a bitter sweetness to it. I felt the same sort of grief, that I’d experienced the night my mother died. And also a fresh sadness in the knowledge that I am facing a stage of life she never experienced. I’ll have to go into the future alone without her example.
Although at the time, I knew my mother was far too young to die. However, it’s more clear to me now, since I’ve reached the age she was. It’s hard to believe that life was already slipping through her fingers when she was my age. I still feel young and energetic, full of plans and dreams.
Since my mother’s death, I have grown accustomed to being a member of a club that no one willingly applies joins. Us “motherless” daughters feel a sad kinship with each other. We recognize ourselves in each other’s eyes. When women around us talk about their living mothers, we comfort and mother each other.
So when my mother died, even though I was an adult, I felt once more like a fearful child. I had just lost my most profound source of unconditional love. The person who had always walked beside me, loving, teaching and guiding me, was gone.
Although she never reached her 60s, she was excessively preoccupied with aging and saw excess weight as a character flaw, always noticing if I’d put on a pound or two. To some extent, I absorbed those anxieties. In the past, I would fret over the physical changes that my bodies was going through.
Growing old gracefully is hard for women — we aren’t allowed to age and we are tempted to take all sorts of radical measures to combat the ravages of time. Although I’m as vain as the next woman, I’ve recently come to embrace my age and refuse to apologize for still being alive. I feel this all the more, since I’ve hit the age when my mother realized the end was near.
While I don’t actively relish every new wrinkle, I’ve come to realize that it’s certainly better than the alternative. Getting older now feels like a nice problem to have. And unfortunately a problem my mother never had to face. As a result, I will try to live my life in the present and to the fullest. It is with this new outlook on life, that inspired my resolution post.
My mother would have turned 70 this past March. And not a day goes by that I don’t wish she was here to walk by my side. But I do feel her presence in more subtle ways. When the wind blows through my hair, I feel it’s her gentle and loving touch. The warmth of the sun on my face, reminds me of the warmth in her heart for me. I know she didn’t want to ever leave me and she is still in my heart. She would want me to honor her life in the best way possible, and that is by living it. So this will be for you, mom.