Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


R.I.P. Mom

My Mother died on November 24, 2015.

I was informed via an email from her old pastor on December 1st. It arrived between my teaching two yoga classes.

I usually don't look at email between classes, but CK and I had left dinner plans up in the air and there was the possibility she was going to put in an online order for me to pick up after teaching. So I looked. The subject preview was sufficient for me to have received the news, even before reading the whole of the email.

I spent much of the rest of the week just stunned, feeling unable to take in the news. A morning spent angry with the facility she was in, since I had let them know that when her conditioned worsened to let me know. Then I thought about it a lot and wondered if it was intentional, that the facility had been told not to tell me.

Yesterday I checked back in with the pastor, asking when he'd found out. That perhaps there was some delay due to the holiday? However, the reply that came back confirmed my worst suspicion; that my Mother had demanded that I not be informed.

The family friends that had taken over care decisions for my Mother informed him the day she died and included a stern reminder that he abide by her wishes to not tell me. He told me that he talked about it a lot with his wife and prayed even more on it, and then finally decided that it was the greater sin for me to be kept in the dark and emailed me. I've since inquired further and he confirmed that my Mother had made the decision to cut me out of everything several months ago.

I'm not sure which is worse, thinking that people forgot to tell me or knowing that my Mother intentionally left me out of the loop.

The last contact I've had with my Mother was the vicious letter she sent me right before my birthday.

In reviewing the letter, which caused CK to exclaim out loud and go a little pale when she first read it, my therapist and I talked a lot about it. I said back in August that I thought it was another effort to get me to fall back in line and go apologize for ever wanting to live my own life, free from abuse. Instead it only strengthened my resolve to not talk with her.

Now the consequences have been made abundantly clear. If there was ever a human who could figure out how to use their own death to strike out at someone, my Mother was that human.  True to form, she has had the absolute last word about our relationship by leaving a directive that I not be informed of her death.

My Mother was a master of grudges. Her last directive about me speaks volumes to the profound suffering she was going through. For her to foster such bitter animosity toward her own daughter is shocking, but true.

I feel all kinds of shame and fear around her death, this exclusion.

I feel ashamed I'm related to someone so spiteful and ugly; shame for her behavior. An implicit shame that secretly wonders if I am truly the horrible daughter she's portrayed me as to uphold her wishes, her personal mythology. Fear that as I age I will turn into her. Afraid her behavior is all my fault, just like she taught me everything bad always was.

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