Going Through Thoughts After My Mom’s Death [a poem] (+ link to see slideshow)

Hi, it is now after midnight in my timezone, but it was Saturday, June 27th, 2020, which would’ve been my mom’s 58th birthday and which seemed like a good day to power through and finish writing the poem I started the first week in February.

If you’d like to see the memorial slideshow I made for my mom, I’d be happy to share it in a temporary download link.

I followed advice I found via Googling to use her own handwriting from the backs of photos and scan those too for the slideshow, to caption photos so people can tell who they’re looking at, etc.

I discuss the slideshow in my poem below, a poem I started writing while I was still in the process of creating the slideshow. So without further ado, this is a start to some of my thoughts in the aftermath of my mother’s death.

Going Through Thoughts After My Mom’s Death

Going through shots for a memorial slideshow
Many of two toddlers and their youthful glow
Christmas morning, playtime, in others’ arms, etcetera
But I’m looking for the woman behind the camera

Her love for her children wasn’t a ruse
But laws aren’t equipped to prevent all types of abuse
In another life, she might’ve been a good mom
Might’ve been equipped with patience, joy, and calm

So evident in the pictures is her affection
Toward unexpected people, the flash in their direction
She photographed her husband long after they separated
Sisters, brothers, those to whom she was related

She held onto images mailed from an in-law or a friend
Occasionally she herself appeared, her smile not pretend
It certainly is not the part of her I remember best
I recall her as always bitter, angry, and depressed

I know both impressions are true; it’s not a contradiction
Life’s not a fairy tale; villains aren’t pure evil in nonfiction
My mom was a traumatized, in-need-of-help soul
Whose pain evolved into a tangible sinkhole

The actions that hurt me weren’t loving, yet I’m sure she cared
She never set out to raise children who were so scared
What went wrong in her life remains a mystery
But no one emotionally healthy feels such raw fury

Going through music for the same slideshow
Singers she enjoyed all sung of times feeling low
Themes of loneliness and despair fit her too well
And yet it’s not the sentiment on which it feels right to dwell

This tribute should honor the woman who is missed
The not frequent enough moments we all would’ve wished
Might’ve been more of who she was, portray what could have been
Instead her demons hurt those who knew her best, those she let in

Despite all the trauma in my childhood
I know I was lucky to be believed and understood
Not by my mom, which is sad, and not okay
But by other family who toward her showed such dismay

I tried so hard to quell her rage and would fail
She fought for my innocent dad to go to jail
It’s the many harsh hurts I’ll never forget
And cutting off all contact I’ll never regret

However, I remember her taste in music
It’s a part of who she was beyond how she was sick
A part that despite mental illness maybe even tried to cope
Connecting to songs as if they contain hope

I couldn’t narrow things down to just one song
My desire to share her musical taste strong
So I settled on five partial songs, a nice variety
Even one she asked be played at my wedding (though I’d never agree)

Going through her home makes this slideshow possible
First time in this house, yet the nostalgia remarkable
She kept photographs in boxes and kept countless other objects
Recognition of my childhood was so emotionally complex

I expected to feel triggered and mostly upset
So many associations to her, such bad feelings to beget
I was pleasantly surprised by mostly feeling grateful
Comfort in seeing my familiar childhood, much of it safe and not painful

The objects often felt more mine than sometimes they were
Only a small fraction of items so purely reminders of her
A clock, her distinctive bedsheets; vehemently I won’t keep
Yet for certain furniture and decorations, warmer memories ran deep

With her gone, I could retrieve tangible parts of my past
The reprieves in-between the torture, the calm times did outlast
I’ve felt a similar longing just returning to my hometown
Internalized something better than tears shed and being let down.

For thirteen Christmasses, I made an effort to ignore
That I would never again have ornaments gifted to me in days of yore
I didn’t consciously consider how this day might arrive
And they’d be waiting for me, obtainable with only an hour’s drive

Still in my twenties, I lost my mom, unclear if heart attack or suicide
But I’d left her over a decade prior, grieved her long before she died
Even started to feel more pity than resentment, sad for her, more than for me
And when police in the town she lived in called, she’d been found dead, predictably

I’d worried she’d outlive us all and cause a disruption
At another funeral – for my dad, for her siblings, even her son
Maybe I should’ve realized she’d die before the rest
So much to eat away at her from inside, so much repressed

I contacted those I could about her death; I wrote her obituary
Chose not to claim her body, though not out of being angry
I found more to mourn, learned everything I could about her recent years
Felt grateful she had some who cared for her, to watch my slideshow, and shed some tears

One thought on “Going Through Thoughts After My Mom’s Death [a poem] (+ link to see slideshow)

  1. I’m so sorry for all that you have gone through because of your mother’s illness. This poem seems like an act of catharsis through creativity.
    These lines were my favorites:
    “I know both impressions are true; it’s not a contradiction
    Life’s not a fairy tale; villains aren’t pure evil in nonfiction“
    Sending thoughts of healing and peace. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

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