Written and shared with us by our grief-friend, Cara Jeanne. Sharing with all of you, because we have a feeling many of you will relate.
“She’ll always be with you.”
“You’ll know she’s there.”
“She’ll never really leave.”
These are the very kind and infuriating things people have said to me over and over again since my mom died in 2012. I needed to believe that this would be true. That as she was dying in hospice, it would all be ok because I would always feel her presence; I would obviously receive messages from her. See, because if there was any mother-daughter combo who would certainly keep in touch once the veil had come between us, it would be my mom and me. We were extraordinarily close. She was absolutely my best friend. We talked every day and we saw each other several times every week, scheduled and spontaneous time together. She was cheerful, hysterical, compassionate, easy-going, generous, and spiritual. Obviously, we would keep in touch just like everyone said we would.
My mom was all those things. Apparently, though, she was not a Jedi. So imagine my surprise when my mom’s body finally took its last breath and she did not immediately become one with the Force all around me. I didn’t feel any pang of telepathic pain when she finally let go. I had spent every night in the hospice center with her for a week straight, and of course, the one night I went home to sleep in my bed instead of her chair, she died. I learned about it through a voicemail from my dad. I hadn’t even woken up when the phone rang. Maybe our spiritual connection was just experiencing a delay?
And then, who knows what happened those next few days. There was a memorial service. There was a slide show. There was a luncheon. There were people. And so many of those people told me not to worry because I would always feel her with me.
But I didn’t.
So I went to a psychic medium. Three times. Mom came through. Told me to look for yellow flowers and white moths. Told me to quit drinking diet soda. Told me that she was always with me in my thoughts and I needed to stop looking so hard for signs.
I went to different spiritual places, all different denominations. Maybe if I prayed for her, if I meditated on it, I’d feel her.
I put faith in talismans. I started wearing her wedding ring on a chain around my neck. I got two tattoos to get closer to her. I practiced playing her piano. Maybe if I had these pieces of her with me all the time, I’d feel her.
I saw yellow flowers everywhere. I saw white moths everywhere. I stopped drinking diet soda. I addressed the thoughts in my head to my mom. I prayed and meditated. I wore her ring. I ran my fingers over the outline of my grief tattoos. I played her favorite songs.
But I just couldn’t feel her. What I felt was defective. I certainly couldn’t admit to people that my mom had not “reached out” to me. Was our relationship not as close as I had thought? Was she ok? Was she trying to reach out to me and I couldn’t hear her? I kept it to myself and just doubled-down on my efforts. I got a third tattoo quickly followed by a fourth one — a large tattoo with two yellow flowers and a white moth.
While I love my grief tattoos and the story they tell, a story of a daughter who desperately wants to be as close to her mother as possible, I still don’t feel my mom.
As the years have passed by, I feel less shame about this. I’m not the only one, it turns out, who hasn’t been able to “feel” their loved one. It turns out, none of us is a Jedi. I miss her. I miss her in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I feel so far from her. And that’s when I feel her. I feel her in the way I can’t feel her at all. It is my sadness, the bittersweet joy of knowing that I once had the perfect mom for me, it is my longing that lets me feel her.