It’s really amazing how time flies. It seeps away with days passing into months and months passing into years. Forty years to be exact. Yes, as I look at myself in the mirror each morning and see a fading version of my mother and a transformation of myself that even I have disbelief that it could have already been that long. But indeed it has. For the first thirty one years of my life I have seen what she would have looked like each day by merely taking a look in a mirror. Now at forty eight I represent what she might have become…
March 28, 1978 3:35 pm a train came barreling into my hometown and without warning or whistles or bars to stop it that destructive thing killed my mother. I was eight years old and it was a few weeks before Easter. She was buried in her Easter dress wearing her wig. What’s ironic is how much that one second in time has defined my own life and over the years my identity as a woman and a mother and a wife has been influenced by someone I only knew for eight years and barely have any recollection of at all.
My grandparents grieved in many ways. Many wants in which they grieved was through talking about her and keeping her memory alive. As I have grown older I realize that their stories are the only memories that I have of her. Luckily her parents saved everything from her clothes to her report cards and even a collection of love letters between my mother and my father. I remember finding those letters in her dresser one night while visiting my grandparents from college where I slept in her room as untouched as if she were to be walking into sleep there herself! Some things don’t need to change. It was magnificent finding those. It gave me power against the abuse of my step monster who barreled into our home months after she was killed and hated me for what I represented. Someone she could never ever hope to ever be. Daddy revealed, in those love letters that there was a deep love between them and confirmed as I have been with Brian for thirty years, and could have only begun to understand having lived and loved myself like that; that a love that is that deep never dies.
As I grew I developed a “look” that mimicked my mother. I am as they say the “spitting image” of her and that just really caused unnecessary drama with that wicked woman too. I remember the comfort I felt once I found my own wig and how despite any interest I might have had to change, that was and has been always fleeting thought. I am safe there and safe I shall stay. Some things just don’t need to be changed. My accomplishments mimic my mothers as well with community service and excellent work ethic and our awards and honor societies. I find it very interesting how much subconsciously I have in common with someone that I barely knew.
Many people over the years have recalled to me their fond memories of her and how devastated they were to learn of her death. Even now as I walk down the streets of my home town where I have not lived for almost two decades perfect strangers still stop me and ask me if I am her daughter. It’s hard not to become defined by that. They say that we should not let trauma define us but I don’t believe that at all. Everything about that day has most certainly defined me and I know she is very proud of the mother, daughter and wife that I have become.
And so it’s Easter again….and this one should mark a milestone, after all it has been now 40 Easter’s without her, but strangely it feels no different. I have reached her age and passed it and now I am a reflection of not only who I am but who she might have become. We have switched roles as it were in this thing called life. I feel like a warrior a winner and not at all alone. The older I get the more I feel she is right here with me, I wonder if that’s what they meant when they said on that fateful day that someday time would heals all wounds?
Take care of you and Happy Easter!