I miss my mother sometimes so much it hurts my insides. I force myself to get wasted and watch P.S. I Love You just so I can validate feeling so shitty. I cry about completely unrelated things. I literally flip through pictures of my old life and take shots of tequila just so I can fucking feel something. Feel as sad as I did the day I found out. Sometimes I let myself go for a long time without crying about it, and I work myself into a deep depression that I can't find reasons or answers for. I don't even realize why I'm in such a funk, or in that state... Then I remember that the reason I am so fucking sad and difficult and bitchy all the time is because my subconscious is going, "Yeah, your Mom fucking died. She died and you are totally alone. Good luck learning how to be an adult, kid, because you are on your fucking own. I'm kicking you to the street. Sink or swim, you privileged fucking asshole."
It's been a little over 5 years since I suddenly and for no reason lost my Mother. I was 18, in my first month at college. It was like some sick joke. After 3 years, I still suspected that she would jump out of no where and say, "Just kidding! Did you miss me?" My dreams were consumed with situations in which she apologized for being lost and that she was home now. In my dreams my Mother comes back to me. The truth was that it was so sick and impossible to swallow that there was no way it could have actually been real. Things like this don't happen to people like me. In my world kids graduate from high school, go to college debt-free, meet nice boys, get great jobs at Dad's office downtown, start a family and have our kids repeat the same process. In my world, things like parents dying was stuff that happened in movies. After so long... well... I don't know. It feels totally disconnected while simultaneously staying at the very front of my thoughts. I guess it no longer feels like I want to kill myself. That was the first two years.
When I was in high school, I never did anything. Literally. I hung out with my parents every single night. I never went to a single party. I never tasted alcohol (until our family reunion at Christmas that one time...). I went on an after-dinner walk nearly every single night with my Mother (my best friend), and our dog, Tramp. Usually we would walk past her old home, where she grew up. I remember one time I asked her something along the lines of... "Do you miss your parents?" or something like that because they were both dead. Mostly because I was going through my teenage angsty phase, and mostly because I wanted to know if my misery was worth it. Also because I wanted to know whether she believed in Heaven, since I had never met either of her parents and was struggling with the concept of religion. My whole life I'd grown up United Methodist and I had always felt like I was watching a show. It never resonated with me, the whole, organized religion thing. It seemed like I was watching a play, a scripted show that I had never heard of.
How could there be a Heaven, when religion itself seemed so silly, so foreign and rehearsed? When I asked her about her parents, she rarely talked about her father. Instead she reflected about how much she missed her own mother. As a teenager, I felt myself rather invincible. I wasn't scared of dying because I hadn't lived yet. I had nothing to be scared of because I wasn't yet aware how cruel life could be. The only thing I worried about was whether or not I would ever get a date to prom, being the loser that I was.
While my Mother told me about her parents and her childhood home, I asked her whether she was scared of dying. Her response? "I'm excited to see my Mother again." So it became clear that while she may not believe in Heaven, she did believe that when we die, we get to see the people we've lost again. I'm not so sure of this. My brother thinks that humans are the perfect machine, and that when we die that's just it. We shut down. No higher power making sure we see the people we've loved and lost. No eternal happiness or hell-fire. Just pffft. Kaput. I don't know what to believe in anymore. I'm more lost than I've ever been.
When it happened I ran away. I ran away from everyone. I hid behind my cynicism and sarcasm. I boldly put on a mask to hide the growing anger inside me. I was fucking angry. And I still am. I am fucking mad as hell. I may never be able to shed the anger that I feel at the injustice of it all. That summer, I literally ran away to Central America to work at an orphanage. At a place for kids like me. Except they had it so much worse than I will ever have it. While I may have been a slight blip on their radar of an extremely difficult childhood, they changed me. It made me trivialize my own problems because theirs seemed so much greater. I wrote about connecting with these girls over the loss or absence of guidance, of a love that we'd never know again. I even got my little romp into pretending that I'd found strength to go on because of those little girls published. But I would be lying if I said it was still true. Maybe at the time it seemed like I could and should have the strength to 'keep calm and carry on', so to speak, but I am mad as fucking hell.
I carefully balanced my good, charity work at the orphanage with a much more unbalanced version of escaping reality. I was more reckless than I think I've ever been that summer in El Salvador. At 19, I drank two-dollar a gallon vodka every night, started 'dating' a 24 year old Englishman, went to strange nightclubs and partied with drug lords and cute waiters and took rides from drunk taxi drivers. Why not? Fuck you, God, or whatever is out there. If you did that to me, than I am doing this to you. I dare you. I fucking dare you to make it worse than it already is. I pushed myself to the very edge of reason in the hopes that it would allow me to feel something. That's the trouble with feeling too much at one time, I guess. After that, emotion is harder to muster up. Like when you take E, you'll never be able to have the amount of serotonin that you had before the E again. (For the record, I don't know what E is like.) It was like so much emotion had been spent that I would never again be able to cry at a sad movie, because it just wasn't as sad as the saddest thing I'd ever experienced.
Something happened that summer. With my morals and religion totally in question... my friend Grace and I left for a trip to Guatemala and ended up in a tiny town only accessible by boat. San Pedro La Laguna. We stayed at a hostel right on the edge of the lake, where on the roof you could not only see the lights from San Pedro, but the other tiny, scattered towns along the edges of the small lake. It was there that I received my first tattoo- my Mom's initials on my back. That night, I decided I needed a good cry and went up on the roof by myself. I sat and breathed and listened to the loud steel drum inspired band a few bars down. I started crying, and it really picked up speed when I started thinking out loud, about the unfairness of the feeling of abandonment, and so on and so forth. I'm not sure where it came from, but out of no where I asked the powers-that-be, my Mother, to show me some sort of sign.... that I wasn't alone in the Universe, that she misses me too. I shit you not, right after I sobbed that last comment, everything went pitch black. Not my state of consciousness, but all the lights and electricity went out in San Pedro. The music stopped suddenly, and the lights from the towns around the lake went black, too. It was total silence. Pitch black. I'm not kidding. And no, I did not have some sort of religious experience, (it freaked me out, to be honest), but it made me wonder if maybe my Mom had been right. After all, what are the odds of a coincidence like that? I ask for a sign and there's a total power outage?
It's Mother's Day and once again I am consumed with undirected rage. I still lack any semblance of religion in my life (except, of course, if you count soccer, which I do). As much as I have tried religion never has resonated with me. Maybe I'm angry at God... if I thought one existed. Anyway it's been so long and I've experienced so much that I no longer have that desire to be as reckless as humanly possible. I am still mad. But I guess if you were to ask me whether I was scared of dying, I would say, "I'm excited to see my Mother again."
Anyway I suppose the purpose of this rant is to (moral of the story) is to let you know that you are not invincible. People die; and sometimes you have no warning. You never know how long you have with the people you love, so don't take it for granted.