My writing on the blog recently has been more than a little random. I apologize for that fact, as I have many other times. I’d like to say it won’t happen anymore, but we all know that probably isn’t the case. The reasons are many and manifold , but they boil down to two big things. First, my muse hasn’t exactly been working overtime lately and, thus, my voice has been more difficult to find. And, second, I don’t want this to be a place where I do nothing but vent and whine. Nobody wants to hear it, and I need to keep my mind pointed in a more positive direction.
That said, this post is very likely going to veer quickly in a melancholy direction.
I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I guess everyone can say that. But, the problem with my personal load of mistakes is that some of them are real doozies. One of the biggest was my decision to cut myself off from my family. Looking back now I understand that it was a decision born of cowardice, selfishness, and weakness. I’ve come to accept that about myself, and I am trying to fix it. I have been working to reestablish those ties and be the son and brother that I should have been all those years I was gone.
Unfortunately, in many ways the old saying “you can never go home” has a certain truth to it.
One of the things I learned early on as I began to do the work that would eventually reunite me with my family was that my mother passed away in May of 2006. It was devastating news that I have never truly been able to come to terms with. It’s funny, you grow up in this world and think that you learn something about grief and regret as you go, but life has a way of showing you that you don’t know anything.
I have come to hate the month of May since I got that news. May is now a rapid fire succession of days reminding me of my failure as a son, a brother, and a man. After all, last Sunday was Mother’s Day. Yesterday was the anniversary of my mother’s passing. And this Saturday is her birthday.
Susan Ford was one of the best people I have ever known. I know that many people will smile and nod at that while thinking I am deifying my mother now that she is gone. Perhaps, but the evidence would be to the contrary. She was much loved by not only her family but also by her students who apparently showed up in droves for her memorial service.
I say apparently because I was not there. I was not there to hug and comfort my father as he mourned the loss of his soulmate and the love of his life. I was not there to hold my sister’s hand while she dealt with the sudden absence of her mother and friend. I was not there standing beside my brother as we tried to lend each other strength.
I was not there. I wasn’t even aware that there was a “there” I should have been. I never said goodbye. I never told her I loved her. And, God help me, I never said I’m sorry.
Yesterday afternoon I got in my car to pick my wife up from work. It was a normal set of actions that I do without thinking that included plugging in my iPhone for music. This time, however, I skipped straight to a song my sister had gifted to me a few months ago on iTunes. The song was “Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond, one of many songs by Neil Diamond and James Taylor that will forever conjure images of mom. I drive through now familiar streets on autopilot, not really seeing what was around me, losing myself in that song, singing along softly. And I remembered.
There is no way I can ever make this particular hurt right. Not with my father or siblings. Not with my mother. Not even with myself. It is a hurt that will never really go away and a grief I suffer with alone. That’s just the way of things and the consequences of a terrible mistake. I can live with that.
But, this May, I hope that somehow, somewhere my mother is looking down on me and that she understands how much I love her. How much I miss her. Everything that is good in me, everything that makes me anything approaching a worthwhile person, starts and ends with the influence of my parents and siblings. My mother is owed the credit for all that is good in me.
I love you, Mom. I hope you know that.