A Daughter Without a Mother is like a Bird Who Lost Its Tail Feathers…

29 Jan

Death is a difficult subject to tackle. It’s one that everybody tries to write about and, more often than not, one that people usually fail to really captivate. God only knows I’ve written about death a number of times, and I still don’t think I’m well equipped enough to speak on it.

But on some levels, maybe I am. Death was introduced in my life when I was five years old when my favorite uncle died of lung cancer, and then again when a girl named Audrey died when I was in the fourth grade. I don’t remember much of them. I remember Uncle Dave had a thick mustache and thick glasses, and I remember Audrey was one year younger than me and was in the same Girl Scout troupe as I was, but besides that I really can’t remember them. I can’t remember why he was my favorite uncle and I can’t remember if Audrey and I were ever friends or at least pleasant acquaintances. Time and age has stolen all my fond memories of the two of them.

Then when I was thirteen my mother died of an aneurysm. It was sudden and quick and nobody saw it coming. It happened at six in the morning and by 12:15pm she was gone. That was over eight years ago, but to this day it still hurts. It’s always going to hurt, I realize, even when I’m eighty years old and can no longer remember the sound of her voice – which is already hard enough to remember as it is.

The reason I bring up death, namely the death of my mother, today is because of two things that have happened in the last twelve hours: I watched O Brother Where Art Thou and I watched the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer entitled “The Body”.

O Brother Where Art Thou may baffle some to a certain extent, so I will explain. My mother showed me O Brother when I was just a kid, about ten or eleven, probably deemed “too young” for the movie, but for some reason she allowed it. It was one of the first times I was ever invited to watch a “grown up movie” with my parents. She instructed me never to say any of the “bad words” that I’d hear, she had to explain to me why a bunch of men in white robes wanted to kill an innocent black man and she had to explain the word “nigger”, and she made me close my eyes when the Cyclops squished the toad. That being said, it quickly became one of our favorite movies to watch together and we watched it several times before her passing. It’s not a movie that always makes me think of her though; not really. I watch it on a somewhat regular basis (at least once a year?) and while she may be floating in the back of my mind as I do, there are definitely other movies that are more emotionally tied into memories of her.

However, last night as I was rewatching it and shoveling Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream into my “I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-this-diet-anymore” mouth, I was struck with a sudden odd memory. When I was eleven, I had a major crush on Delmar in that movie. Y’know, Delmar? The short, little guy played by Tim Blake Nelson? Really simple-minded, the comic relief of the main trio, and says things like “Oh George, not the livestock” and “We thought you was a toad”. Yeah, him. I had totally forgotten this over the years and was highly amused upon remembering. I wanted to share it with someone immediately and, for some reason, the first person who came to mind was my mother. I fantasized how amazing it would be to have that one, simple conversation with her. It might seem strange to others, but the image of me calling up my mom and saying to her, “Hey, so, I totally just remembered when I was a kid I had this weird crush on Delmar from O Brother! Isn’t that ridiculous?” and then her saying something funny in response, as she always did, is the thing I want most right about now. I know it’s an odd thing to fantasize about, but geez, what I’d give for that moment.

The Buffy episode is a bit easier to understand why it made me think on my mom. (SPOILERS ahead for Buffy, just so we’re clear)

I have never seen a TV episode portray the loss of a loved one, especially a mother, so brutally honest. Whedon does such a great, poignant job when it comes to matters that are as serious as this, and he really did the death of Joyce justice… but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less to watch. I got to work this morning and told myself, “Okay, just one episode of Buffy and then I’ll get straight to the homework”… well, that one episode ended with Buffy finding her mom dead on the couch and I instantly knew I had to watch the next one. And I did. And I cried. A lot. And I was utterly thankful that no one came into the office during that time, because if they had they would have found me red-faced, tears streaming down my cheeks, and choking back sobs of empathy. The part that got me the hardest was finding out the character had been taken by an aneurysm and then realizing that the character of Dawn is very close to the age I was at when I lost my mother to an aneurysm. It’s so rough at that age. And Buffy’s reaction and shock to the situation was unbearable, and seeing how all of her friends took the news… ugh. Heart rendering. Also, I thought his line was extremely accurate:

Buffy: Was it sudden?
Tara: What?
Buffy: Your mother.
Tara: No. And yes. It’s always sudden.

It’s always sudden when we lose a person; whether it happens in the blink of an eye or it’s a gradual, slow process that you think you’re prepared for. You’re never truly prepared. Not really. It’s always going to hurt like a bitch to say good-bye to someone you love with your whole heart.

I’m sure this is not the last time I’m going to write about death, and it’s certainly not the last time I’ll reference my mother. There’s still so much I wish I could say to her, and I feel like writing it down is the only way I’ll ever find that sense of closure that I’ve been looking for ever since I was thirteen.

A daughter without a mother is like a bird who lost its tail feathers…it’s still possible for it to fly, it’s just a much greater challenge.

3 Responses to “A Daughter Without a Mother is like a Bird Who Lost Its Tail Feathers…”

  1. Mike March 12, 2013 at 9:38 PM #

    You are beautiful! I lost my mother when I was about 13 too. Sadly you never get past it. Well maybe not sadly. That is always part of the memories you (and I) will have so even her passing can be cherished that way I guess. I found your blog serendipitously by searching for the word “friend” and seeing which photos Google returned. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • puckrox March 12, 2013 at 11:30 PM #

      Wow, that’s awesome how you found my blog. The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes. Thank you for your kind words, and while I’m sorry you too had to lose your mother at such a young age, I am glad there’s someone else who knows what I mean. Again, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Mike March 13, 2013 at 11:52 PM #

        I’ve always wondered if there is something special about the 13 year old. I have two older siblings that of course lost their mother too. But they seemed to take her loss different. No less painful I’m sure. But 13 is a time in life after young childhood and before rebellion. For me my loss left a void that cried out for meaning. I had to put a reason why to mom mothers’ passing. I had to transform it into an expression of myself through my life. Even to this day that expression is me. It is who I am and why I am here. My life became an art. You seem to confirm for me that 13 a magical age. I’ve always wondered…

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