Saturday, February 16, 2008

What Valentine's Day Means to Me - An Anniversary Part 3

Part 1

The weather suited the occasion. We all huddled tightly under a canopy. I was close enough I could have reached out to touch my sister. This sister that I had taken care of from before she ever even started grade school. The sister I used to hear going into an insulin reaction in the middle of the night and fly from my bed for her orange juice. The sister I gave birthday parties for and helped her with homework. The sister I sewed clothes for in my home ec class. The sister I bought a custom made Wally Burr water ski for with one of my first paychecks. She was standing just off to the left of me right in the front, handing out single pink roses to place on the casket and looking right through me.

She handed one of those pink roses to each person around Dave and me. She even included my son and his wife. The omission was obvious to all. It was a final confirmation both symbolically and physically. But I knew her reason for those pink roses was a lie. Her reason for not giving one to me was the truth, she wants no part of it.

The joy I have in my life is there because I could let go of them and all they represent. Any of the doubts that I have had over the years, wondering if somehow it could be all right if I would only let it, were washed away in that one single afternoon. And it all happened because she died and I went to her funeral.

Fortunately for me it was on Valentine's Day, a day that will clearly stand out in my mind. Since I live my life more by the process than the day, I often don't even know which day of the week it is for sure. But I will have the gift of all the advertisers out there reminding me each year, that I have something to celebrate. For me it will always be a celebration not just because she died, but because I finally could see that leaving my family behind was the right decision for me. A chapter is finally closed in the book that is my life.

Valentine's Day will forever be a celebration. Her death may have triggered all of those unresolved memories that are still waiting for me as I post on this blog and work on my book but it was worth it. What it gave me was a new kind of peace, liberation from the baggage of that toxic family.

Knowing that she can't hurt any more grandchildren or great grandchildren is just the frosting on the cake. The burden that somehow I should be able to protect them has been removed from my shoulders. While I've known for years that I have done everything thing I could to stop her from hurting more children and that the protection of the family's children was out of my hands (that first part of The Serenity Prayer thank you , Lord), I can finally know she won't hurt them anymore. That is a huge relief because I know the family did not protect any of those children.

So yes, I was up for a celebration on this Valentine's Day. I didn't have that party to celebrate her death but only because those people back from my therapy days are scattered across the country by now. I doubt if my horse friends would understand wanting to celebrate the death of my mother.

I didn't struggle with feeling unloved. I didn't feel guilty because I felt justified over the death of my mother. I just plain ole felt happy that Valentine's Day was here and a reminder that she's finally gone and that my obligation to that family is long since over. We went out to dinner to celebrate and frankly if I didn't think I'd be arrested, I'd have gladly gone and danced on her grave.


Kahless said...

I am glad you are in a place of freedom. That you know what you are responsible for and what you are not. Glad you had a nice meal to celebrate too.

(That serenity prayer isnt as easy as it sounds though.)

katy said...

go and dance on her grave, would come with you in i lived near you x

April_optimist said...

(((Hugs))) I felt much the same when my father died. As for siblings...I protected my younger brother. Stopped my mother from throwing him against the wall when I was 3 and he was a baby. And...he sided with them. I, too, walked away. Sometimes that's the best and healthiest thing we can do.

Lily Strange said...

Although I would grieve my mother's death in spite of the fact that our relationship is sometimes volatile, I do understand. I felt that way when my aunt's first husband (I refuse to call him my uncle) died from throat cancer when he was 49. He was the one who molested me and made me feel like a freak throughout my childhood although I didn't know why because I was very young when it happened and I repressed the memories. They started coming back after I gave birth to my son. The way they came was as a shadowy figure in my dreams, and after a while I began to know. When my mother told me he was dead I said "GOOD!"
She told me I shouldn't be vindictive because he wasn't always a bad guy, it was the drinking. I told her that it was always in him to be a bad guy or he wouldn't have acted like that even when drinking.
His one daughter ended up becoming very successful as a nurse practitioner. However, she did initially get pregnant when she was 16. His elder daughter is my age (43) and is a serious alcoholic who weighs more than 400 pounds. I will be surprised if she lives to 50. Of course he molested both of them.
I don't think dancing on graves is against the law, just digging them up. And why would we want to dig up what we're so glad has been buried?

Hobbes said...

You are right. To the extent that people can choose their families, they should.