The Mother of All Matters

 

Sometimes little bits of thoughts and feelings cloud my mind, then suddenly they all pull together and rain down my cheeks; tears that leave me cleansed like the air after a storm.

It’s coming up on a year since my mom died, and with the smells and sights that mark the changing of the season, I’ve been flashing back to moments spent walking from my car to visit her at Enloe; the scent of blossoms in the fresh air tinged with looming fear over what was wrong with her, the tight feeling in my stomach when I got the voicemail that her test results had come back, our worst fears confirmed: cancer.

Seeing the verdant fields with bright new grass below scattered clouds in the perfect blue sky, I can’t help but remember driving to the hospital in Sacramento day after day, trying to think about anything that would give me respite from the reality I was about to walk back into, trying to be brave enough to see her swollen body and vacant eyes after she suffered that stroke while trying to recover from the failed surgery, her organs shutting down slowly. The moment we had to decide as a family to let her pass. Listening to her breath drawing with delicate falter, fading imperceptibly over a long hour, her cold hand in mine when it finally stopped.

Death is a strange companion to Spring.

My family and I bonded in a way we never had before through the raw emotion of this experience; sometimes we get together and share these pure human connections that are possible only because there are wounds from having her torn away that made us vulnerable.

I was talking about all this with my best friend the other day, and we got on the subject of fear and comfort. She asked me if it made me anxious about my mortality, and she seemed surprised when I told her no.

Both of us are in our 30s, and there’s an unwritten rule that it’s coming up on time for a midlife crisis. She gets a sense of panic thinking about the fleeting nature of it all, fear that as each moment slips behind her she can never have it back, fear that it’s all meaningless because when you die your thoughts and feelings will be forgotten forever.

While death is certainly a very real thing to me, and I love my life with every fiber of my being, I find it to be a comforting thing knowing that it will end. To me the idea that none of this “matters” lifts a burden, makes it OK to live in whatever way I see fit. I can believe whatever I want, be as ambitious or unambitious, accomplish things or fail at them.

I don’t really believe in an afterlife, but I do believe that all time happens at once, and our consciousness is just reading it like a needle on a record. It’s enough for me that I’m hearing this song right now, even if the record just sits on the dusty shelf of time, never to be listened to again. At the very least, I know my life matters to the people I love. I’m imprinting on them in ways that will weave through their songs, binding us invisibly and permanently— the way my mother still lives as a part of me, her crooked smile shining on my quiet moments like the sun through the blossoming trees.

 

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Managing Editor for Synthesis Weekly. Amy likes to make clothes, plant flowers, and chase butterflies.