One of my stored away feelings in one of the many boxes hit home again last night: the feeling of freedom.
One of the things I have always considered both a grace of god and a curse is the striking similarity in looks between my mother and me.
We both have heart-shaped faces with soft brown eyes, brigitte-bardot-lips and thick, jet-black, silky, wavy hair (although I have recently started colouring mine a darker honey-shade blonde – which actually goes quite well with my fair skin).
Beyond the apparent similarity in features we also have (or so I have been told) similar mannerisms. I have a tendency of tilting my head slightly to the left in pictures (so does she), I have done ludicrous things to help others (her life was about being reckless for the sake of others), we have the same insecure half-smile when we are nervous and we treasure harmony more than anything else in the world.
Weirdly enough we also made some very identical choices in our lives and had some not-so-great things happen to us, that would probably happen to almost everybody making the choices we made, but still don’t happen to the average person.
I always treasured that. It felt like all those little tiny pieces came together as a singular stream of connection between me and the woman who gave birth to me and nourished me and raised me and who I still for the life of me can not remember.
Over the years, her friends have gotten in touch with me over Facebook, e-mails, via my father and my grandparents in the US. This too, I treasured. They were my rearview mirror that could show me images of the past I am not able to see with my own eyes. They could paint pictures of my mother that went beyond her life with my father and me, back to her childhood and youth and somehow that was comforting, making her more real to me.
I loved when people said how much I favoured her. It made me feel like my purpose was to keep her alive through me – not just as a memory or a genetic trait, but to actually relive and continue her life for her.
The last couple of days or maybe weeks, before my 30th birthday all this grace slowly started to turn sour. It started to feel less like a gift and more like a curse.
Her life ended after thirty years, how could mine continue? Where was I to go from here, without my steady compass of “This-is-the-road-she-travelled-before-me”? It felt like her steady ghost would abandon me at last and I would finally be left all alone.
This scared me. I wasn’t ready to face the world completely motherless. You see in my mind she was still always there, by my side watching me retread her steps.
I wasn’t sure, if I was capable of living my own life without her almost symbiotic presence. Which way should I turn when the path before me faltered and stopped?
The weird thing is the first thing I felt when I opened my eyes on october the 10th was not fear or loneliness or worries. It was the feeling of freedom. I felt like, for the first time since I could remember, I was breathing fresh air and filling my lunges with endless possibilities of my very own life. I wasn’t aware that I had waited for this moment for so long and that now, finally, it had arrived.
Nothing I would do and will do from this moment forward will have any connection to the life she lived, because her life simply didn’t go on beyond this point.
In all honesty, I will have to admit that this feeling of freedom did not remain pure and untinged for all too long. It was soon mixed with guilt about me feeling this way and a sense of disloyality towards the woman who had cared for me and loved me until the end.
I would like to say it helped that her friends got in touch with me that day and I suppose in a way it did, but not in the immediate way one would expect.
The general sentiment that was conveyed to me that day was that I should celebrate my birthday like no other and never falter because my mother could live on through me.
I understand that this was said to comfort me.
All it did, however, was make me furious!
I had given her thirty years of my life. Thirty years of living in her shadow. Thirty years of copying her. Thirty years of searching for as much of her as I could find, so that I could strive to become her.
Enough is enough.
I understand that losing my mother to her friends was a tragedy. She was charming, caring, witty, beautiful, creative and lovely. I understand that life without her will always lack the luster of her wild spirit and pearling laugh.
I also understand that she didn’t leave on october 10th 2011 when I decided to finally live my own life.
All of what she was ended on April 20th 1984. Her 30th birthday, not mine.
So, I’m sorry if this hurts you, but I just have to let you know: