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Why I’d rather let it go (and maybe you can, too)

November 11, 2016

My mom died. That’s where I’ve been. Putting that on paper is odd, but it’s somewhat cathartic. My hands are shaking as I look at those words again. My mom died. It’s real.

My mom and I didn’t always have a rough relationship. When I was very young, it was easy. Parents are heroes when we’re little. Moms are the most beautiful. Dads are the strongest men we know. It’s the lovely part of parenting. As life tends to show us, things change. Sometimes we can’t explain the change, but it’s there.

My parents divorced when I was in middle school, and in high school I moved in with my dad. In college, my mom and I still got along pretty well. She’d come see me, and I’d go home to visit her from time to time. Things grew more and more distant as the years passed. It wasn’t a casual growth. We argued. We couldn’t see eye to eye. She came to my wedding. It was a good day.

When The Boy was born, Mom was here. She didn’t stay with us. She stayed in a hotel, but she came to see me that very day. She helped me get pain meds from the nurses, when I was in too much pain to think clearly. She saw him a few times before The Girl came along, but the visits became less frequent. They were too stressful. We always did the obligatory family gatherings, like funerals and an occasional Christmas. In the few years where we didn’t see each other, there might’ve been a holiday phone call, but only if my brothers were around, to be sure things remained friendly.

Just more than a year ago, after keeping it to herself for a brief time, Mom told us she was sick. My brother was the one who called me. Mom had cancer, and it didn’t look good. It was a large mass, and while she would do chemo, there probably wasn’t a cure.

Without skipping a beat, I stepped in to help. That doesn’t make me a saint. I can’t explain why it was easy for me to take her to appointments, chat with her on the phone, and otherwise support her wherever needed. “She’s your mom, Jenny. That’s why.” Yeah, okay. I’ll give you that. Sort of. It’s not that simple. A lot of folks out there are unable to make amends with their parents.

Maybe it’s that we knew she was terminal. Either way, it was easy for us both.

Enough time had passed. The anger was long gone. Most importantly, neither of us felt like we had to talk about it.

One night, we were chatting on the phone at about one in the morning. We’d been texting, but I could tell she wanted to talk. It was mostly about everyday things, like what I cooked for dinner and how she was feeling. I said, “Mom, I’m really glad we are talking again.”

“Me too,” she said.

We never talked about why we had a hard time getting along all those years. We never blamed each other, or asked any questions.

I’m not naïve. Not all relationships are fixed by simply moving on. Extreme circumstances, such as illness, simplify things a bit, adding a sense of urgency and sympathy. By not talking about it, we weren’t ignoring our past. We both did things to upset one another. It’s not always crucial to point out another’s faults, though we are quick to do that with loved ones.

As human nature goes, we don’t want to hear what we’ve possibly done to mess things up. That wasn’t the case here. It wasn’t important for me to tell Mom how she’d wronged me over the years. Sometimes, we need to explain things. Sometimes, we can simply move on. Agree to disagree. Hashing it out or blaming isn’t necessarily necessary.

Before you close the door on a friend or family member, think about it. How much does it matter to you that you prove your point? Is that the only way? It might be. If you consider it carefully, you might find that it really won’t solve a thing.

mom-me.PNGI’m so thankful for the time I had with Mom. When she died, she died peacefully, on good terms with all three of her children. I can’t imagine my grief, had we not been together in the end. It would be a whole different ball game. Play yours intentionally. Give up being right. The end matters, and you never know when that might be. Love your people, people.

*originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA on October 27, 2016.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2016 1:19 pm

    That was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

  2. November 11, 2016 2:18 pm

    Your last paragraph sums it up perfectly.
    The story, as a whole, is a guide on how important it is to heal and complete relationships, which is one of the keys to living a life without regrets.
    Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Donna Weatherton permalink
    November 12, 2016 1:11 am

    Beautifully written….about two people that loved each other in spite of their differences! We can all learn and grow from your story. Live in peace.

  4. November 12, 2016 9:22 am

    Beautiful post. I am glad you have peace. ♥

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