I wouldn’t understand or remember the wounds until the week after her death. Going through her things, my sister and I found one of my teenage-angst-ridden letters. This was the only negative letter amongst every letter I had ever written her, a drawer full of letters from my days in college to our days in Rwanda. Our last joyous days before I became a parent were also there captured in this photograph from her visit in 1998.
All my teenage anger is now coming to the surface as I have my own thirteen-year-old. He’s struggling with himself, and often his words cut me just as mine cut my mother some 33 years ago.
I am thankful for the friends who have supported me, but at times, it is hard. More seasoned parents will recall their troubles and say, “My mom was such a rock,” or “My mother was there to support me and show me the way.” Most do not know my personal struggles with the loss of my mother. I politely say “Thanks.” It is nice for those mothers and grandmothers to have that final realization that their job was done well in the end.
I wrestle with that. My mother didn’t have that realization, but I know she would have relished it. I am still on that rough road to finding the end … well-done.