I hesitate to wax on about my mom any longer for fear of boring others. Isn't that crazy?

She is ashes now. Her memorial is later this week, a memorial I have had zero hand in planning...yes, I do realize that's of my own doing. Had I been a better daughter, a more caring one, my opinions and feelings would most likely have been taken into consideration. Or maybe not. 

Her husband wrote a lengthy tribute to her, wherein he revealed details such as how long she was married to my father (11 years), her teaching career, how they met and how much they loved each other and oh yeah...she loved frogs and sports. 

I guess most people will just assume that for some stretch of time she enjoyed being a mother and grandmother, and that her four living siblings are sad she's gone and we will all miss her very much. Will anyone know that she loved poppies? That she taught her daughter how to make Betty Crocker fruit-shaped marzipan cookies? That her favorite treat was calamari from a restaurant called Thanh Do? 

In the end, there weren't too many people still in touch with her. Only one of the aforementioned siblings will be able to attend the memorial service. Her son, my brother Jon, is flying in from Vegas. 

Since I work for the school district she labored for over the course of 4 decades, some of her old coworkers have been in contact with me. Most of them have smiled as they did so, mentioning first and foremost that she was funny. Not a bad way to be remembered, if you ask me. It's reminded me that for all the crappy times, there were golden ones as well. Thank you for the sense of humor, ma. I hope someday when people are telling my own kids what they liked best about me, the laughs will be right up there. 

Grief is lonely, especially when it's grief over someone you ignored for a couple of years. There are people, friends of hers and her husband, who shunned me prior to all of this "ending" stuff. They believed that what I did (and didn't do) was wrong. It was cruel and inhuman. A couple of them work in or around my school and they have made it abundantly clear that this is not my loss. I get that. And again, I hope someday I, too, will have supporters like that. Despite the facts, they are true and loyal friends. We should all be so lucky.

Even if this isn't my loss, it sure feels like one. I have never felt so alone. I found a voicemail from her, left this past summer. I vaguely remember receiving it, and in my usual bitchy cold callousness, not listening to it. Later. I'll listen to it later.

"Jenny? It's your mother. I just miss you so much."

For some reason I do most of my crying in the car. I do a great job of pretending I'm fine...but for some reason when that garage door goes down behind me, all pretenses go down as well. I listen to that voicemail, over and over again. And each time, I answer it. 

"I miss you too, mom."

I hope to be back to my old self one of these days. Or maybe, a better self. My old self wasn't the nicest me. Perhaps my mom had one more thing to teach me, one last lesson. 

Like some fool in a trippy book, I've been on the lookout for signs from her. Like what? I don't know. Maybe a frog on the front stoop or a flock of doves serenading me from the trees. A heart on the bathroom mirror revealed in the steam from a shower. 

Or maybe, a voicemail I was too busy, too hurt, too proud to hear before. 

I just miss you so much. 


  1. Sometimes, signs work in funny ways. I woke up this morning with the clear knowledge that the almost-total estrangement I've had with my brother for the last three years is the thing that is weighing on my mind the most these days (no small feat since I have plenty of things). I know that I haven't handled the situation well, which is why I am where I am - essentially, net zero. I asked God to take it over for me and show me how to get where I've been trying to go, since I obviously don't have the ability to do so myself. I know that grief you're talking about, because I feel it every day with him (and others who may or may not be here any more to do something about, but that's a different day!). But he is here, and that's what has been tearing at my soul...the knowledge that I could be and should be doing something while I can.

    Then I sit down to my blogs and this is the first one I read this Sunday morning. Coincidence? I don't think so.

    Thank you for your words.

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  3. I posted to you about two weeks ago that my estranged father had also just passed away. His memorial will be Tuesday. I did get over myself and go see him just days before his death. I felt like it brought me some peace. Yesterday I received a copy of his will (I was not expecting any kind of inheritance) however what I found was that was I that I had been specifically written out. After my visit with him, his wife and his sister's told me again and again how much he really loved me, how proud he really was...

    The estrangement was of his doing, and continued because of his stubbornness. Over the decade I sent cards, letters and phone calls. I feel that I have received a big middle finger from the afterlife.

  4. Sending hugs and praying that you find peace.

  5. Jenny, I think the voicemail you found is one of your signs maybe THE sign. Your mom loves you and misses you. Still. I hope that thought will bring you peace.

  6. This is exactly what I needed today. As you know, I was 50 earlier this week. Do you think I heard from my pops? Even a phone call? I haven't had a phone call in months and the last time was so he could see his only 2 grands in the world (thank g-d for that!!!) last summer. My moms; she's too mentally unstable and is in the hospital again as she broke her wrist and her case is too complex to go home to her assisted living apartment until they train someone on Colostomy bag care. When I went to see her late last week she asked if she "missed my b-day again' and I replied yes but quickly changed the subject so she wouldn't go down a rabbit hole.

    At least these two people are still living. I can love them in my own way, from far away, and I do love the idea of them. Your mom is gone. Someday soon I'll have that too. But my pity party I've had for myself as of late has got to stop.

  7. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jenny. And it is exactly that, your loss. We all do the best we can and giving yourself some space from a difficult relationship was what you needed to do. Try and let go of the icky guilt feelings. All that really matters is the love. It's there. -Wendy

  8. This brings back memories. I felt the same way when my mother died. We had been estranged and I felt that somehow my loss wasn't as genuine as my sister's or my dad's.

    The truth is, it was my loss just as this is your loss. I took my allotted bereavement days (secretly thinking, Whooo hoooo! time off!) and then sat home unable to do anything but stare off into space and feel sad and lonely.

    So, I get it. I'm sitting right there on the Lonely Couch with you.

    1. Thank you, Donna :) Always room on the couch.

      I'm sorry about your mom. This experience has taught me to be far more supportive of friend who have lost parents.

  9. Jenny,
    I am sorry for your loss. I wish you peace. It is complex time. I had a lot of different feeling when my mom died. I know the Lonely couch feeling.


    1. Jenny,
      I don't know you but I follow your blog religiously. You are funny and courageous and I admire you greatly. This is YOUR loss. I just want you to know that. She is your mom, and always will be. One thing I know for sure, this is not the end. You will be able to make amends someday with your mom - and I'm positive she has already forgiven you. Life is hard.....after all, it kills us. HAHA! But a mother's love is unconditional and I know that she is looking down on you right now hoping that you can find peace in all of this. You are in my prayers. I hope you can find comfort and peace.

  10. I'd like to smack those people who say it's not your loss. My sisters and I went through this with our father's passing. People kill me. Seriously? It doesn't matter if the friends saw your parent on a regular basis. It doesn't matter if the friends knew more about the parent's daily routine in recent years or that the parent had a new favorite food or movie or whatever. Those people have the nerve to dismiss the fact that she loved you first and she loved you and your siblings most and despite ALL other choices she made in her life believe me when I tell you that you were the most important person(s) in her life. They can put themselves ahead of you if that's their reality, but it's not reality. You will always be the most important and the most loved. Don't you dare talk yourself into believing that the friends or the husband come before you and your siblings. I'll tell you this. My father's floozy wife had him for 10 years. She and all the loser friends forgot that we had him for 47 years before that. Yes there were times of estrangement, but he loved us most. Jenny, she loved you most. There. Now I'm done ranting. People kill me. Got me all riled up. Don't let them take "ownership" from you.

    1. So true. I know they intend to "stand up for" her,and it's compassionate of you to be able to see that when you are feeling so much grief. However, they didn't live in her womb and they didn't grow up with her. You did. Losing a parent is deeply affecting regardless of the nature of the relationship.

      I have some understanding of your feelings. They resemble many of my feelings when my mom passed, and those I'll feel when my older sister passes will resemble them, too, even more so. I know I will feel a shattering loss that we could not have been closer in life. I know part of me will think that if I had been better, tried harder, reached out just one more time, I could maybe have rebuilt something before it was too late. And maybe that's true. But, for me, after everything that has happened, it isn't worth the risk. I can love her more from here, even though it is far away, than I can from there when the love keeps getting overshadowed by the pain of trying to smash the square peg into the round hole.

      I guess what I am inarticulately trying to express is that I encourage you to be less hard on your beautiful heart as you grieve and I wish I knew a good way to do that without sounding like I am trying to change your feelings and your grieving.

      Sometimes we have to thread the needle of feeling our feelings but not entirely believing them. My wish for you is that you can find that space, to acknowledge the feelings without feeling so burdened about what didn't happen. It will take time. In grief, there is no substitute for time.

      Strength to you.

  11. I'm so sorry for your loss. There are always so many regrets when someone dies, so much left unsaid..

  12. I feel for you and I relate—my mother's still alive but we are estranged. Nothing will make me have anything to do with her again, but I do wonder how I'm going to feel when she dies.
    Look after yourself right now. Be compassionate to yourself. Avoid those who judge you. You made your decision for a good reason, so trust it. It's nice that your mother had her loyal friends, but they're no friends of yours, and they have no right to judge you and your decision.
    Even though you were estranged from your mother, it's still a loss. It's your mother, after all.
    Blessings and loving, compassionate thoughts to you in this sad, confusing time of grief. xx

  13. Like other people have said, Jenny, this is TOO your loss. I so wish these friends of your mom's, or whoever they are, who don't even know you wouldn't judge, without knowing the whole story...I don't suppose they've even bothered to check in with you to try to hear YOUR side of things. That's sad. And it makes me angry on your behalf. Please keep in mind you have every right in the world to grieve for as long as you need to...and I'll be here for you whenever you need. Big, comforting hugs...and I'll see you Saturday.

  14. Well, if it is any help, this is some of the best writing of yours that I've read.

    I feel your pain through your words and it terrifies me about my own mother-daughter (or father-daughter, for that matter) relationships.

    All I can say is that life is fucking rough sometimes. Sometimes there just aren't any right answers and all we can really do is cry in the car.

  15. Just writing to say I am thinking of you, though we don't know each other.

  16. I hope you're doing okay. It's going to take a while.


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