Our reality is a strange space. My mom is here, but not really here. And there are times when her not being here is a hole so big you can fall into it.
The day after my niece was born, I took dinner to my brother in the hospital. We sat on a bench by the entrance and remarked at how, for July, it wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too humid, it was the perfect summer night. While the sun set, he told me about his new daughter and his wife, the whole ordeal as he experienced it, and how everyone had arrived on the other side, exhausted but healthy.
I asked him, “What do you think it would have been like if mom could be here?” It was a question that weighed 200 pounds and I lifted it from somewhere inside my chest and put it in his lap. He paused for a minute and in his characteristically even tone said, “You know, I think about that all the time.”
The truth was we both did. Especially with the baby. My mom took that role so seriously and derived so much meaning from it, that even in her absence, she had so much presence.
For the next half hour we imagined my sister-in-law’s pregnancy and the delivery if my mom had been there. My brother catalogued all the questions he’d wished he could have called to ask her. We laughed at how there would have been no respect for any boundaries or visitation schedules. She would have been at the hospital and that would have been it.
He told me about the memories that came back to him as he was refinishing the old rocking chair that my mom and dad had rocked us in as babies. We created an entire alternate reality of ‘what ifs’ till there was a whole version of a life where mom wasn’t lost.
And after a long pause my brother said, “We have to figure out how to be mom now that she’s gone.” His 200 lbs contribution to the conversation. We talked about what that meant. What was good about her that we had to commit to not losing? What would it mean for two brothers to be maternal, to be mom for each other, and for her grandkids?
And what was there on the bench in front of the hospital is what I think my mom most wanted for the two of us, unquestionable love and connection.
Your writing has brought tears to my eyes in my office (where I should be reviewing proposals), and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your sharing it. As I watch my father’s illness progress to a point where I’ve learned that he is, in fact, a new person now than the one I grew up with. I’m thankful to have this new relationship with him.
This is one of your best posts, Matt. Thank you for sharing. And thank your mom for me, for raising such an insightful, honest man. I’m lucky to have you as a friend.
Love you both!!
I love you, Matt and Joey! Kathy raised two caring, loving, insightful men. You will pass Kathy on to the baby.
Matt, this is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. You are reaching into people and supporting them in countless ways through your words here and I just wanted you to know that it means a lot. All my love to you and your family. What a comforting, happy thought that this little child has the gift of you as their uncle. Your mom truly keeps on giving to others through you and your family. Love, Karen
this is so beautiful. Im sure your mother’s spirit is hearing your words and feeling your and your brother’s love.
Matt, I have visited your blog several times and was blown away by your caring and love for your Mom, It is not easy being a caregiver, but you are doing a wonderfull thing in sharing your experiences. I watched my husband and my son deteriorate from Huntingtons Disease, My heart and my prayers go out to you, your Brother and your Mom. God Bless Barb
you brothers have so much love and compassion – God bless you both and keep the faith – your mother will come out in both of you –
Matt, I want to answer your blog as a Grandmother first, and a friend second. As a Grandmother, I want to say my greatest hope is that I can instill just a little of the love that brought Me to this place, along with a little of the quirkiness that is all about ME and my family! That is what Kathy wants! her own little indelible mark on the beautiful new baby! She would call it a sweet new and crazy whispered nick name…. Cuddle and kiss and make irrational promises for the future! She would look at that baby and see each and every little freckle and mark that makes it looks like Joey. Or you! And when the day was done, she would just hope that some day, down the road, someone would tell her story to that baby when it’s all grown and wondering about the people before it. I know you will do that very thing so beautifully, my friend, just as you have done here. I love you, and love that you are so blessed to experience the circle of life. Best wishes for the new little life that is so, so lucky to have YOU!
This is so beautiful.