Thoughts on My Mother

Easter
I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother lately.

I’ve been missing her, which is a strange feeling. It’s been a long time since I’ve missed her. In the few years following her death I missed her so intensely that I literally thought my heart would break. I was living in New York, a place where she had lived for seventeen years. I was 20 years old and just in the beginning fringes of learning how to be a young woman without a mother.

I thought about her all the time. I imagined her walking down the same streets I was. I pictured her in the same smoky bars I inhabited. I fantasized that my cramped little East Village kitchen looked just like hers when she cooked meals for her friends. Sometimes I daydreamed about going out to lunch with her, about what it would be like to sit across from her, to tell her about my life, to ask for advice or comfort. Sometimes I simply imagined what it would be like to see her turn a corner and walk towards me.

After a few years though, all of that mourning and yearning for my mother simply gave way to my life. I began to adjust to not having her there, to making decisions on my own, to seeking advice and guidance and consoling in other places. I began to find myself as a woman without a mother. It wasn’t so much of a choice as it was an inevitability. In the beginning of this subtle transformation, I even mourned mourning. I was sad to let go of it, if that makes sense.

It’s now been close to twelve years since I’ve had a mother and I’ve long since adjusted to not having that person in my life. It’s rare that I wonder what she would say about me or the way I live my life and when I do go there, it’s almost too hard to imagine. But lately, just lately, I’ve been really thinking about her and very much wondering what it would be like to have her in my life, to have a mother to share things with, to go to for advice or consoling.

My mother and I are alike in so many ways but we are also very different women. She was married twice before she met my father. Her first marriage was in her early twenties, to a guy she went to art school with. They lived in New York together and had a young and passionate relationship that ended with just as much spark as it did when it begun, five years earlier.

She married again in her early thirties but the marriage lasted less than a year. I hardly know anything about that relationship or  its demise. And then at age 37 she met and married my father. Their marriage lasted for 17 years, until her death. I was their only daughter.

I wept on Sunday afternoon thinking about how much I wish I could talk to her about it all. About love and relationships and marriage and being a wife and the looming horizon of motherhood. I have no doubt that she’d be proud of me and be thrilled about my marriage and life. I just wish we could talk about it all. Two women. Mother and daughter.

3 comments

3 Comments

  • Francesca mccaffery
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Claire! She is so beautiful, just like you…(I love that bunny rabbit you are holding!) Love you…:)))

  • Posted September 17, 2008 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    There are so many moments when those of us who love you have also wished to see your mother. I want to see that sparkle in your eyes as you’re frosting cupcakes, radiating from hers. I want to hear her laugh as she serves us some scrumptious meal and relishes conversations from all of us around a large table. You have created such a real portrait of her for me. I sometimes feel as if the dimensions of paper could sweep her up off the page and she could be amongst us. Then I remember, that so much of her internal and external beauty lives and breathes in you. I see her as one big smiling essence within your home, your heart, and with light whisps cast out towards all that love you. I am so sorry that she isn’t here and yet I wonder, how much of her being gone has allowed you to be in my life. For that small circumstance, I am always so grateful.

  • nat
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    claire, your post has made me cry. i miss your mom too! she’s was so absolutely wonderful. the picture is so beautiful and brought me back 25 years! I remember you so well at that age, with the typical sweet, almost embarrased, but oh-so-proud smile of a child. and sally, i remember her also, just like in the picture. and if i look at it closely, i can hear her voice and watch her smile, and fling back her hair the way she did!
    i can’t imagine how much you must miss her….i guess, just as you got used to not having her around when you were growing up, you’ll have to get used to not having her around now that you are an adult and married. And then you’ll have to deal with that in motherhood, which might just be the most difficult of tasks ahead… But I believe that you’ll be able to hear her, to find her…within you. She does live through you…and I thank you for that.
    with all my love.

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