August 29, 2006: My mother passes away after a thankfully short battle with Small-Cell Lung Cancer. She never got to see me publish an article on living with Asthma at an online magazine, a war she helped make sure I was properly treated to survive. She never got to see this website. She never got to see me start teaching children about America’s history. On August 29, 2016, I’m writing a sentimental piece because I don’t know what else to do.
I suspect that time has healed this wound. When I visited her grave today, where my grandmother was all-too-recently interred to rest with her husband who went there when I was young, I said my prayers with a level of acceptance that she is gone and that her pain is over. She struggled raising a child who was often sick, mildly learning-disabled, and occasionally prone to foolish decisions. She had a loving husband and a supportive family around me, which I’m constantly thankful for because there’s really too many people who unfortunately don’t have my luck in that area. When I was at the grave, I felt pain; my fiancee hugged me and I felt better. I visited her parents as well (They’re down the street a few rows at this cemetery), offered my well wishes, then went off. We went to a nearby Nathans; not the one my mom took me to when I was little, the one I would later take her to as we tried to convince her to eat in spite of her sickness, and while I felt tears well up when a song about childhood came on the radio I fought them back and felt alright.
I even managed to be okay when, later today, my dad and I were at McDonalds and some lady started singing some of the same childhood songs that my mom sung to me when I was a baby. Okay. Full-stop. It’s been a decade. The pain has faded in a lot of ways. The fact I can write this for public consumption, well…Hold on. This is stream-of-consciousness, and the fact that I’d like people to read these barely-edited thoughts as they rush from my brain to my fingertips is perhaps a sign of a different kind of insanity. However, with loss comes pain, and with pain comes healing. Maybe I’ve healed.
Then again, maybe tomorrow I’ll break down in tears and blame myself for not crying as much, today.
It’s been ten years. In ten years, I’ve had my shoulder repaired, gotten engaged, lost other family members, nearly lost my father to liver disease and managed to keep him on this side of the veil between life and death, and spent a great deal of time stagnant while moving forward in other ways. She knew I wrote a book; she’d probably not be surprised that I’ve written six. I’m not bragging, but more are on the way because I’m the kind of insane that likes to create stories in my head. She’d probably be happy I write about happy futures, and give characters happy endings. She was a big reader, even if they were standard-fare stories like Stephen King and James Patterson. I bought her books when she was sick, trying to get her to enjoy her time. She taught me how to use the internet as a youth; for a while, I was just trying to get some semblance of normalcy out of her so that she could fight on.
But…In the end, we all fall sometime. Sure, there are doctors doing things like investigating Metformin to see if it’ll extend the Human life. Sure, there’s the ember of hope that virtual immortality through merging with machines might provide us, but in the end all things break down and all people just, well, we die. We don’t know for sure what’s on the other end of that trip, either. We can’t. We can argue that a belief in supernaturality is madness without evidence, just as we can argue that the mere fact the laws of physics exist in a way which allows for conscious thought is perhaps the best evidence that divinity is a thing. I said prayers today, but I know they could be un-heard. I wrote this article knowing it might go un-read by the vast majority of the population of this planet, let alone by a God. She never even knew I got a cat.
It’s times like these I like to reflect on mortality. It’s times like these that I know I’ve been driven mad in some fashion or another by the loss, at the age of twenty one, of my beloved mother who had fought for me every step of my life. But I also know that people die, and that regardless of the right and wrong decisions made during that time, the outcome has already happened and we are where we are. I feel lost, with tears in my eyes and a bit of class-less snot trying to slip out of my nose between sniffles, but…
…Hey, I just used alliteration, one of my favorite techniques. That’s a good sign, right, mom?
–In memoriam of Joanne Pohlman.