MENTAL ILLNESS AND MOTHERHOOD
Five years ago today my mom passed away. We'd been estranged for almost 13 years due to her mental illness and abuse. She left a letter with instructions to remove my name from her obituary, along with my children's names, and I was not allowed at her funeral or to know where she was buried. I felt erased. It was a brutal year trying to find closure. To top it off they had to use dental records to identify her because she'd died and no one knew for well over 2 weeks. I can't begin to explain what I felt. It was heartbreaking to know she died completely alone.
I'm happy to say that I found my closure in forgiveness, both for myself (leaving her) and for her brutality. Though I had to stop seeing her to self-preserve to be a mother and a wife, I found one of the greatest parts of my heart years after her death learning to see her in a whole new way. I saw the beauty far beyond her face...I found the heart she just could not share.
No one comes to earth wanting to be miserable or broken. But there are things that break people, often beyond repair in this life. Mental illness is cruel to everyone involved. My mother was one of those people unable to find her healing or purpose while she was on earth. Borderline Personality Disorder confiscated her. She died never knowing her truest beauty. I now hold an empathetic love for her and look forward to having a mother in heaven someday.
Be careful today and always who you judge too quickly. They may be surviving pain and trials you'll never know or understand. My mother was one of those people. I'm sure if you look around long enough in your life, you'll find someone just like her. Love them however you can...everyone dances with some sort of ghost.
A SISTER'S SUDDEN DEATH
“She died”. I’ve never uttered two more painful words in my entire life. I was 21 years old when my 29 year old sister Karen passed away in her sleep unexpectedly. She had not been ill or had any warning signs of health issues. Her body was found on the living room couch in an elderly woman’s home that she cared for several nights a week. It was suspicious from the start.
When she died my sister had a five month old baby boy and a five year old daughter. Those kids were her world. Her husband, a rather shady fellow, informed us that my sister had a blood clot that travelled up her spine, killing her instantly. For years I believe that was true, although our family certainly questioned this questionable man. The grief was too cumbersome to see clearly through while making funeral plans. Our family was falling apart with this loss. When he would not allow my young niece to come to her own mother’s funeral to say good-bye…we all knew something was terribly wrong. Fighting ensued. As if that was not bad enough, two days before the burial we were informed that he had given up my 5 month old nephew to another family. How could he give this beautiful little boy and brother away? We were mortified. He then took my niece and left town abruptly.
You know, it is true, we never know when our last day on earth is. Part of me left with her. It’s been 28 years of having my best friend and sister gone. I think about her all the time. I never would have guessed that my second sister Marilyn would also die early, causing the wounds of loss to avalanche even more for me. Both of my sisters stand frozen in time within my heart.
Love transcends pain as time becomes our friend. But being human can make death's journey difficult to heal and navigate through. Years later when my mom died, I was in RI and had lunch with my sister’s best HS friend, Anne. We had reconnected here on FB. When we met for lunch and Anne told me that she had my sister’s autopsy and there was no blood clot, I was speechless. The report showed ALL my sister’s vital organs were perfectly healthy. I felt sick inside. I then heard an unveiling story of abuse and nefarious acts against my sister and we contemplated that her death was far more sinister than we knew. Having her body exhumed just was too brutal to think about.
As her birthday approaches in a few days, September 25th, I can’t help but think of the things I still miss about her. Kisses on my cheeks, the laughter, her crazy antics, her touches and hugs, and that smile...oh I loved that smile!! So Happy Birthday sweet Karen! Your death has taught me that love goes on and on and continues to grow as we do. I remember you in everything I do and I miss you every single day. Through the years I have celebrated with some really special friends that knew I needed to wipe a little blue cake frosting across my lips in memory of you. What I'd give for one more day with you though. Until we meet again….I'll just keep loving you.