Monday, February 09, 2004

I was rereading a section of Aama in America today where the author has not really coped with his mother's death, and the reality that you can lose a person who loves you and whom you love without there being anything to do about it.

Within an 18 month period of my life not so many years ago, I recognized my marriage was the loneliest place on the planet, met a soul mate, divorced my husband of 16 years, realized my soul mate was using me as a substitute for intimacy so that he could stay! inside his empty marriage, moved on, met another man I fell madly in love with, realized that was a terrible mistake and broke up, allowing him to tear my heart into little bits on his way out the door, and during most of this timeframe sat at my mother's bedside as she died from an undiagnosed break-down in her digestive track. One of my closest friends and confidante during all of this (you know who you are) gently and repeatedly reminded me that things were moving too fast in my life. Too much to absorb.

For a few years there, I thought I was ME encountering the WORLD and felt this incredible sense of finding MYSELF! But now looking back, I was just me reacting to relationships which took me all over the map, emotionally, each redefining my image of myself from the outside, but really did not help me work out the nature of ME.

Dale has an interesting post on the idea of what defines the reality of our identity in the world, and some of the comments talk about the importance of relationships in their endurance far beyond the scattered bits and pieces of self that blow away upon our death. I have such mixed feelings about this now. I know I'm not always very clear about where I start and the other person stops. I like this feeling of integration and how it expands my window in the world. But its so easy to lose track of which part is me. When so many relationships died in such a short time, I realized that I could claim only a few pieces as "mine" walking out. Certain things I had to recreate into "mine without his," others I had to simply bury in a drawer for a while, and some I realize I cannot reclaim. Its so much easier to let someone else define me. Especially if its a definition that's more loving than my own for myself.
The book excerpt called to me this week, because lately when I look for ME, I find my Mom instead. Not in the "oh Mom would disapprove of this so I can't do it" or in even a conscious way. But rather in how I act as a mother to my own kids. I mean of course, obviously, who do we mirror but our parents, once we become parents. But how do I explain... It's not the decisions or the way I play or what I talk about with the kids... Its as if I'm trying to recreate the feel of my mother in their lives. And I wonder why. So they don't forget her? So I don't? Because I haven't let go of certain things? Because the relationship persists beyond the person's death? Or is it as simple as wishing my kids remember me the same way I remember her?

When I was very small, I used to fidget with a ring she wore much of the time... a rectangular light purple amethyst stone set in a simple solitaire setting. I can see so clearly the way it looked against her skin, the shape of her finger and how much give it had to turn when I'd play with it on her hand. I guess it calmed me, connected me to her in some way because I remember it in such detail. What will my kids recall? I work so hard on the "important" things, being a good listener, teaching them kindness and a work ethic, treating everyone and everything as sacred. But it isn't going to be those things they remember best I think. Maybe it will be, as Dale's readers recall, the hours reading aloud and playing board games. Or the wacky pink halloween wig. Or the smell of a certain favorite homecooked meal. Or playing with the same amethyst ring on my finger.

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