The newest member of the club

December 11th, 2017

Since October 12th, the day my mother died, my life has completely changed. On the surface level, my days are filled with odd tasks, or “death chores,” as I refer to them.

My to-do lists look something like this:

  • call Social Security Office
  • respond to Stacey about surety bond
  • call Lisa to sign Personal Rep. papers
  • call Wells Fargo re: mortgage being in probate
  • make copy and scan mom’s death cert.

Each week I have a goal to accomplish a certain number of administrative death chores in addition to the more personal tasks such as cleaning out my mom’s house. I started with her bedroom – by myself. I knew that my mom’s most personal items and, perhaps secrets, would be in her bedroom. I wanted to protect her and assure her that I would be the one to find her secrets and I would keep them for her.

As I rifled through drawer after drawer and parsed through every single item in her wardrobe, closet and jewelry boxes I remembered how many times I had done something similar as a kid. My mom has always had a room full of treasures – some hidden and some in plain site. She had cupboards 2 feet deep that were crammed full of old yo-yos, make up, purses, buttons, costume jewelry, etc. Her closet was packed so tightly that you had to use your body weight to move items over so you could see each piece of clothing on its hanger. That’s right, I’ve snooped in my mom’s room a time or two before. But this time was different. This time I wasn’t a voyeur. This time I was claiming my birthright. I was more diligent, more thoughtful and more protective. I remembered all of those times I searched through her jewelry imagining where I would wear it and the day it would all belong to me.

Then here it was – the day it all became mine.

On a deeper, less pragmatic and more existential level, I carry myself differently in this world now. I am a motherless child….and a motherless mother- walking no longer with the invisible cloak of the unconditional love only a mother can provide. The full weight of independence resting on my shoulders. My map, now a tear-stained blur lacking clear direction, and I am lost. I have wondered so many times how I am going to make it. How am I going to do this without my mom? Then, one day in my yoga practice I heard the message

“You’ll learn.”

I realized this was my mom reminding me that over time this will get easier. I will learn how to walk without the reassurance I’ve known my whole life. I can improve. I can grow. I will learn. I also reflect on the fact that my mom lost her mother when she was just 13. I understand her differently now. She became a motherless child while she truly was still a child. She learned. I don’t know how she did it but I use her as inspiration and realize that even now, she is guiding me, teaching me and supporting me. She is still being my mom.