My Mom Died 5 Years Ago Today

Five years ago today my mom died. This is the third version of this post. The first version I wrote a few months ago. It was the version I’ve been living for 45 years. The version where I desperately try to sound like a daughter who loved and appreciated her mom despite her narcissism, rage, and neglect. The one where I channel my inner self-help guru and recognize what a deeply wounded soul she was and how the hurt she caused herself was so much greater than the hurt she caused me. The one where I prove I’m not the horrible daughter she told everyone I was. Two weeks later, the facade I’ve been keeping up for 45 years started to crack and I wrote version 2 — the fuck you version. The version where I couldn’t spend one more day trying to pretend she didn’t backstab, betray, and hurt me in ways no real mother ever could. The version where I acknowledge how hateful and mean she was and for the first time since her death I say fuck you for what you put me through. Then last night my cat died. And 1 hour plus a vodka milkshake later I wrote this version. The version where I finally say enough — it’s time to be done with this.
In my other versions I went into great detail. Detail about finding out my mom had 6 months to live and realizing I only had 6 months to finally get her love me. About getting the call that she had been found on the floor covered in every bodily fluid and me getting on a plane 3 hours later desperate to show her that I wasn’t the horrible daughter she said I was. About sitting in hospice every waking hour managing her care while her visitors who had always listened to her stories sneered at me and talk down to me. About how I was the only one, the ONLY one, who was there day in and day out and never left her side. About how she called me into her room one day and I went in thinking this was it — the moment I had dreamt of — them moment she would tell me that she really did love me even if she didn’t show it — but instead she told me all the ways I made it difficult for her to love me. About how she made arrangements to have a coworker she barely knew handle her funeral arrangements. And how she made it clear that she did not want me to be included in her funeral plans. About how I was not invited to my own mother’s funeral. I was the ONLY one there. Day in. Day out. And I wasn’t even invited to her funeral. And people talked about me. Said nasty things about me. And I was the ONLY one there. Day in. Day out.
For 5 years I’ve tried to overlook the bad memories. The memories of her berating me, telling me what a horrible person I am. The memories of her rages, her drunken stupors, her vicious retaliation over the tiniest perceived slight. From the moment she died I’ve tried to move past the hurt and tried to recall every happy memory. For 5 years I’ve tried to find the happy memories and for 5 years I’ve felt guilty that I can’t recall more than 3.
For 5 years I’ve carried the guilt of not being able to remember happy times with my mom. And then last night my cat died. All night long my husband and I were recalling memory after memory of our cat — all of them happy. The memories came up so effortlessly — one right after the other. And after weeks of trying to write a post about the significance of the 5 year anniversary of my mom’s death — after weeks of trying to feel like a daughter should feel on the 5 year anniversary of her mom’s death, it hit me — my cat left me with more happy memories than my mom did. And that’s fucked up.
So Mom, in the words of Bob Hope, thanks for the memories. My cat made me feel more loved than you ever did and for the first time in my life I realize — that’s a reflection of you, not me. You left me with a legacy of pain and today I say — enough. It’s time for me to move on.
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