My mom was a true performer. She loved singing, she loved dancing, and she loved getting in front of crowds and making them laugh and sing along whether it was at karaoke or at one of my parent’s performances. She and I had a long, involved, strained but emotional history. It’s hard for me to talk about some days, and some days more than others, but the one important thing I want to touch on is the battle I went through when I lost her.
It wasn’t the fights we had, it wasn’t the anger or hurt feelings I focused on. Those of course came first for a while, but as time passed after she was gone, those emotions turned to sadness. True sadness because she was no longer there for me to call on a whim and update her on my life. I focused more and more on the things she had done for me, taught me, made sure I understood while growing up. She was far from perfect, but what mom is?
I think that the hardest part for me was talking with the funeral home and making arrangements for my mom. They asked at one point for some photographs of her for a memorial video slideshow to have playing during her funeral…and to be honest that was the toughest part for me. It wasn’t the money, although that was a monster in and of itself…it was finding good photographs of my mother that got to me.
Realizing I had a limited amount of time to get these images, I scoured scrapbooks, scanned in some very old images of her growing up…and then realized there were no other scrapbooks to scan. There was this huge gap in her life from when I was a child growing up because…they were suddenly all images of me. My mom was the one taking the photos, she was in a few, here and there scattered throughout my life. Some of me when I was very young on her lap, one when I was with her in high school, and then nothing else with her present in photographs with me.
It hit me so hard; it became a sunken pit in the depth of my stomach. I knew she was present, physically and emotionally, but I couldn’t see her. I looked at images of myself and found comfort knowing she took the images of me, but what I longed for was pictures of the both of us. I turned to the only other source of images I had- Facebook. My mom was an avid Facebooker, she made sure to update her page frequently, daily sometimes. There were a lot of images from the past few years, but again, nothing else between the time that I was becoming a young woman until this time where I was at- 30 years old. The biggest problem for that was that the images were grainy, they certainly weren’t flattering or perfect…not how I wanted them to be or remembered her in my mind.
Exhausted after a couple days of logging into her Facebook account, downloading images, crying for hours after and in between making arrangements, getting family updated, gathering strength for what I knew was coming, I finally had enough to give to the funeral home. It was the most heartbreaking thing I have dealt with, at least in my life, one of the hardest. I still deal with it, knowing she was there, losing so much time…I feel like I have this huge empty gap but I know in my heart it’s still there.
Why am I writing this? Perhaps it’s to give some perspective from a daughter, who loved her mother very much, but her mother was always very self-conscious about her weight. She didn’t like having her photograph taken, hardly at all when I was growing up, and even into my twenties. Perhaps I feel selfish for wanting more than what I have, not to say that the memories of her aren’t enough- they are, but I know seeing photographs always brings those memories flooding back so vividly. So maybe I’m writing this for you, the mom out there that thinks your body isn’t in shape yet, and that you’ll take some professional photos next year. Maybe I’m writing this to tell you that it doesn’t matter what you look like, as long as you have your hand around your son or your daughter. It doesn’t matter how much you think you need to change, because the smile they see and have seen all their life is enough to bring light to their darkness. Because I believe these words wholeheartedly, you are the mom that your children want, love, and need.