Recently I attend the funeral of a young man who was laid to rest at just 22 years of age. As a parent of a son not much older, I couldn’t begin to imagine the horrible pain and suffering of his family as they deal with his loss and what will become their new “normal.”
During the ceremony the minister who had been with the young man and his family at the end said; “Every life leaves a message.” Out of all the beautiful words spoken by the minister, family and friends who loved this young man, that statement stuck with me most. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am, and where I am.
Every life leaves a message.
While I’ve been contemplating the next chapter in my life and what I want to do, I’ve thought a great deal about my mother. Not because she was a big influence on my life, or a self-sacrificing person I want to emulate. Far from it. In fact, I never knew her. Certainly not in the sense a child knows a parent, and she never crosses my mind unless someone else mentions her.
I was 5 years old when my mother passed away, and I have no memory of her. I can play a few snippets in my head of a childhood memory knowing she was in the “scene,” but I never see her, and never hear what could have been her voice. The only thing I vividly remember is the red roses at her funeral and my grandfather crying. To this day I hate red roses.
Having no memory or feelings for my mother used to bother me. Shouldn’t there be something? In my early 20's I had a conversation with a psychologist about it who said; “perhaps the only memories you have are not pleasant, so you’ve buried them.” I shrugged his statement off, chalking it up instead to there were so many kids in the family she just didn’t have much time for one-on-one contact.
As I’ve grown older and really listened to people talk about her, I began to think the phycologist may have been right. Never once have I heard a kind word about my mother. Not from her family, her best friend, former neighbors, or my older siblings. Everyone has a horrific story/memory. The worst by far was from the woman who had been my mother’s best friend, and apparently her drinking buddy, who looked my sister in the eye during a wedding reception and said; “I loved your Mom, but if she had lived she would have eventually killed you.” Such a lovely, and surprising sentiment to share. Can I get you another beer?
Her statement brought up a lot of questions and concerns for me as to who knew what, and why they never did anything. I'll leave that for another post.
Clearly my mother had issues. Everyone has a backstory and hers must have been a doozey.
Putting her issues aside, what's really sad is that my mother was 42 years old when she died, and in 42 years of living not one person found a redeeming quality in her. If they did, it's yet to be voiced. Was her life’s message she was not a very nice person? I’ll never know the truth because most the players have died, and those who remember her were little kids with little kids memories.
“Every life has a message.” What will mine be?