The saddest part about losing Mom is that I never really had Mom. I had whatever part of her that she was able to share with me. Or whatever feelings she chose to project onto me. The years I spent in the same house with her I searched to uncover her secrets.
Secrets I could never possibly find. What she thought or loved. Did she like to dance? Who broke her heart? Her real secret is likely much darker than what I was looking for but keeping it secret made it darker and more powerful.
Only my morbid curiosity is interested in knowing what dark secrets Mom kept all her life.
I would rather know who she might have been without that burden…
Maybe she would have dared to wash dishes without wearing gloves. Allowed the house to get dirty while she played outside with us. She would have laughed more and played music loudly and not been afraid of what other people thought.
She would have enjoyed Dad and let him be the odd, theoretical math geek he was instead of wishing he was someone else… someone who wore a suit and went to society parties.
Maybe she would have gone ahead and become a doctor instead of a nurse – that’s what she did because that’s what it was okay for a woman to do. Or maybe she would have at least been brave enough to continue working after she got married. Maybe she would have been brave enough to break a few rules.
If Mom had been free of secrets, she probably would have let me keep all the stray dogs and cats that came around the house. Even if she hated them, she could enjoy my love of the little creatures.
That strange, dark house would be lit with laughter. The rooms would be painted in bright colors. The floors would be scuffed from children and pets and friends. People would share ideas and music and art. It would be a place of freedom.
I never wanted kids but I do kind of wish I had a daughter to whom I could give this life. We would have Play-Doh fights in dress-up cloths and write math problems on the walls. We would make up rules so we could break them.
Letting go of Mom means letting go of her secrets. The one last rule… the rule of keeping secrets… is the only one left to break.