139 Of 365 (366) For 2012

[ All credit to maumau7, whose lovely picture may be found here. ]

 

“I’ve learned a lot this year..

 

I learned that things don’t always turn our the way you planned,

or the way you think they should.

 

And I’ve learned that there are things that go wrong

that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before.

 

I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken,

 

and I’ve learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones,

 

as long as you have people who love you.”

 

[ Jennifer WeinerGood in Bed ]

134 Of 365 (366) For 2012

[ All credit to B`Creative Photography, whose lovely picture may be found here. ]

 

“Even if I’m setting myself up for failure,

I think it’s worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are,

in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions.

 

A mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen,

or what has happened,

and more time reveling in what is.

 

A mother who doesn’t fret over failings and slights,

who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts,

the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind.

 

A mother who doesn’t worry so much about being bad or good

but just recognizes that she’s both, and neither.

 

A mother who does her best,

and for whom that is good enough,

even if,

in the end,

her best turns out to be,

simply,

not bad. ”

 

Ayelet Waldman Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace ]

 

I Was The Little Girl With The Lunchbox

“Like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”

[ Charlie ChaplinMy Autobiographie ]

I haven’t talked a lot about my mother lately. In all honesty I have been to busy rejoicing in my new-found freedom.

Today I remembered something I didn’t even know I had forgotten.

I remembered the first time I distinctly realized that I was the girl who was different. I was the girl without a mommy.

The German School system is different from the American School system, so when I tell you I was in pre-school, I mean I was in my last year of kindergarten about to enter first grade and I was only one long summer vacation shy of being seven years old.

(No, I wasn’t held back a year. I’m an October baby and the deadline is in August, so … you do the math. You’re probably better at it than I am. Come to think about it, maybe I was held back a year?!)

Tradition wants that the last day of pre school is celebrated by taking on the little boys and girls on a glorious outing or in my case on a field trip to the local zoo.

The kindergarten teachers sent out information packages to the parents specifying what the children should bring a long on the trip and when to drop them off and where to pick them up.

I know it specified us bringing lunch in a backpack. The reason why I remember this so clearly is because my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pich (pronounced “Peach” – sweet, huh?!), reminded us to bring our backpacks that our mommies would give us to kinder garden the next day.

The next morning, I didn’t have a backpack. It must have slipped my father’s mind. Somehow I knew it was vital for me to bring a piece of carry-on-luggage. I didn’t have a kiddy backpack, but I had something so much better. I had a pink sparkly care-bear lunchbox in which I stored all my favorite toys. So that morning, backpackless, I grabbed my pink lunch box filled with my most prized possessions (including but not limited to a toy car that changed colours when you rubbed it long enough with your sweaty palms) and walked myself to kindergarten.

I always walked myself to kindergarten. It was just across the park and it was the 80s so my father wasn’t too neglectful that way. A lot of kids walked themselves to kindergarten back then. Well at least preschoolers did.

When I got there not only was I the only kid who arrived without special parental attention, but I was also the only kid without a backpack.

For a moment most mothers just looked at me. Then my Mrs. Pich took be aside and asked if she could see what I brought for the special outing. When she saw that my lunchbox was filled with toys and other inedible items (including but not limited to a dried up marker), she asked me if I could do her a favor. She told me she had stupidly brought her lunch for today and for tomorrow. She wanted to know, if I would leave some of my toys behind and help her carry all the lunch she brought. Also she quickly tied a jump rope to my lunchbox so I didn’t have to hold on it around all day, but could instead carry it like an overgrown purse.

I don’t remember much more from that day. We saw animals, I think. Afterall it was a zoo. But I don’t really need to.

I have photos.

In all of them you see 12 happy children, smiling, laughing and having a great time.

All of them have little kiddy backpacks on their backs. Except for one. The brown-eyed girl with two dark thick braids carrying a glittery pink care-bear lunchbox tied awkwardly to her with a jump rope.

I remember sitting on the jungle gym for the group shot holding my lunchbox.

I distinctly remember feeling different.

But I also remember feeling special: I might not have had a mommy drop me off that morning, but I was the only kid that got to share Mrs. Piches lunch with her.

[ “Soul Killing” – The Ting Tings ]

What My Mother Said Next

via "Mothers Are Home" @ blogspot.com/

“Mother’s love is peace.

It need not be acquired,

it need not be deserved.”

[Erich Fromm]

I previously shared a snippet out of my mother’s journal, which she kept in anticipation of my arrival, in “From My Mother’s Lips”.

Whenever I feel the need for motherly warmth, I return to it. As someone commented rightly on the above post, she left me the most amazing gift:

” A glimpse into her heart.”

This entry, to me, holds a sense of strength and continuance. I share this not only so you may know me more through her words, but also so maybe – just maybe – this may make you smile.

I share this for you, my dear Patrice and everybody else in need of a motherly touch:

“Today is the 27th day of August. We are in the 35th week. You are expected to arrive on the 2nd of October, in approximately 6 weeks.

Are you getting excited? What sorts of preparations have you made for your coming? Are you anticipating the journey out of darkness?

Well, just don’t be afraid, we’ll all three be there helping each other.

Oh! You’re hopping about in me again. Are you happy? Do you feel the warmth of the sun upon you? Do you want out?

I had a dream last night and when I awoke, I felt great – so strong and unafraid.

Well as dreams go it was complicated and intricate and rather illogical.

What I remember of it is driving home in Concord. It was a dark night, maybe even raining. As I turned into the driveway a white cat ran across the way caught in my headlights.

I stopped, got out and picked up the little kitten. As I stroked it and loved it, it no longer was a kitten. I was holding a baby, my baby. You had lots of dark brown hair and eyebrows already closely knit.

Then we looked at each other and we laughed. I’ve never known anyone to laugh so much. I carried you into my old bedroom at home and we laughed some more and anyone could see that we were meant to be together. We really liked each other.

Then Rose and others from the hall gang came by to investigate,  and I showed them my new baby. Well, Rose didn’t approve at all. Realistic as she is, she assured me, that it couldn’t possibly be my child and that some half scared mother was probably searching frantically for her lost child. I didn’t want to believe her. But together we went out on the driveway and lo and behold the real mother did come and joyfully took you home.

So now I’m back to waiting.”

[ “Your Song” – Ellie Goulding (Elton John Cover) ]

You’d Better Find Some Other Means To Find A Husband Because It Won’t Be Through Your Looks!

“It’s amazing

how complete the illusion is,

that beauty is goodness.”

[Leo Tolstoy]

 

Note: I wrote this yesterday, but for some reason I couldn’t publish it.

I’m having an ugly-day today. One of those days, where I feel picasso-esque. I get those from time to time.

I have a very warped body image of myself. I know that. For instance, I won’t let Phil carry me and I rarely sit on his lap, because I think my weight equals that of a baby-elephant.

I can’t trust mirrors either. Well either that or I can’t trust the people telling me, that what I see in the mirror is not what they see when they look at me. And they don’t mean it in the inner-beauty-shining-through-kind-of-way, either.

When I was younger, I used to get angry at people complimenting me on my looks. I seriously thought they were adding insult to injury.

This might explain, why I only fell for guys, who treated me badly. I really must have thought, I don’t deserve better or at least they are being honest with me or something.

Today, because I’m a bit older and have learned to fit into a realm of social expectation, I don’t shoot people filthy looks anymore when they complement my looks. I graciously accept and smile and say “Thank You” in my sweetest telephone voice (do you have a telephone voice too? Not even sure why and how I started having one, but I sound very Mary Poppin-sy with a cheerful little laugh in my voice. Phil’s Mom can’t stand it!).

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that I see what they are seeing.

Most of the time, I just accept that apparently my vision is skewed when it comes to me. And that’s fine. I don’t really think about it too much.

But then, other times, I can’t ignore it. Everything about me feels off. Picassoeque is actually the best term I have to describe the feeling (hunchback of Notre Dame would do equally well, if you prefer that image).

Today is one of those days.

When I walk through town, I get paranoid. I feel like everybody is staring at me. At the freak. It’s horrid. I avoid leaving the house on days like this, if I can.

Today, fortunately, I could since it was a study day.

Usually (and today was no different) I look through old pictures of myself. Retrospectively, I can agree, that I don’t look that way, but I can’t transport that insight into the present (it doesn’t even work, if I take a picture, I tried).

I think it may have something to do with feeling disconnected to the person in the picture. Over time, the woman smiling back at me, banned on celluloide, feel like an old acquaintance. Someone I lost touch with over the years, but not like myself.

It’s during those times, that I think of my american grandmother.

All the dysfunctional crazy that she is deserves several posts of epic lengths, but I am not up to that today.

The reason I mentioned her, is because even though she loves me (and I’m sure she does in her own dark world) she has never been to great at making me feel like I deserved to be loved.

Explanation? Sure.

For a while after my mother died, I wasn’t allowed to visit my american grandparents, because my grandmother was convinced my father had murdered my mother and my father was convinced my grandmother would kidnap me, if she ever got her hands on me (you know what?! I think she might have). But that’s an entirely different post on its own, too.

When I started seeing them again, I think I was around five.

One of my earliest memories of my grandmother is telling me I’d better work hard in school and learn how to cook and other house-wify-stuff, because I surely wasn’t going to find a husband based on my looks. I think I must have been around six at that time.

She also constantly told me to cover my, as she put them, “manly” legs ( I think she ment fat and was trying to soften the blow).

When Phil met my family in the U.S. about three years ago, I hadn’t seen them in ten years.

The first thing she did was tell me I had gotten big (in all honesty, I had put on about 10 pounds at that time so I was probably a size 10 at that point).

The second thing she did was ask Phil if he wanted to marry me in the future. He said “Yes, absolutely.” She looked at him surprised (honestly surprised!) and said “Why?”.

There was a short pause while my cousins tried to fade into the background (people do that, when she speaks at times. It’s like an incredibly embarrassing scene in a Movie you can’t watch, so you shrink away from it).

Before Phil could answer, she continued “It’s not because of the family money, is it! She won’t be inheriting anything for a long time!” (I’d have to add that my grandparents are quite wealthy, but you wouldn’t know by looking at my grandmother, most of the times she looks like a bag lady, honestly she does!).

Obviously, Phil denied this looking more and more like a deer caught in the headlights. I had told him about my dysfunctional family, but most people don’t believe me until they’ve seen it with their own eyes.

My grandmother sensed this and bellowed on “You better tell me. I will find out sooner or later. It can’t be her looks. I mean look at you.”

A year later, I visited them again, this time alone. It was after my grandfather’s funeral which I had missed due to the volcano eruption that grounded all air transportation. I needed to see him one last time and say good-bye (I still get choked up writing this. He ment the world to me).

I had dropped the 10 pounds and a couple more.

When she saw me said “You are thinner now. That’s better, but I think there’s nothing we can do about the rest.”

I don’t know why my grandmother thinks I’m ugly.

Weirdly, she always praises my mother for her beauty (which is true: My mother was one of those truly stunning women that only come around every couple of years). The one thing I heard growing up at nauseam was how much I favored my mom. She denies this. “Oh you look only like your father.”, she says (which in itself, wouldn’t be that bad either, since my father is rather presentable, but it’s just not true. So not true, that people used to think I was his girlfriend when we went out together on father-daughter-dates).

I’m not sure, if my grandmother is the catalyst of my own warped view of myself or if she only enforced something that was there from the start.

In the end, it doesn’t matter.

Except on days like these, where I keep hearing her voice in my head over and over again:

“You’d better find other means to find a husband, because it won’t be through your looks” – Seriously, who does that to a child?

Sorry To Dissapoint You, But I Am Not My Mother!

“There is just one life for each of us:

Our own.”

[Euripides]

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:

“I am not my mother! I came from her and through her, but she doesn’t live on inside of me. All of what is inside of me is 100% me – don’t be fooled by appearances!”

From My Mother’s Lips

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

[Unknown]

As the 10th of October draws closer with every day and with it my 30th birthday, I have experienced a turmoil of mixed emotions: Pain, sadness, grief, anger, confusion and helplessness. I can’t help but believe, that the passing of this day will mark the passing of these feelings.

Until then, as I am at loss for words, I feel it is only appropriate to let my mother speak. The following passage is taken from her diary, which she commenced in anticipation of my arrival.

May 31 1981

I’m sitting here in the midst of wild flowers, tall grass, surrounded by a deep forest, overhead a blue and white speckled sky.

I left your Daddy and our home for today with a most definite intention of being alone with you. I feel you inside me off and on all day long, and as you beat your hands and feet against me in outrage and protest begging for more room – breathing space, my stomach extends itself evermore in sympathy with you.

Anyways, this morning, after consuming a copious breakfast, the two of us left your dear father to play soccer and bounced of down the road looking for a utopic resting ground. All for the noise from the traffic below it is ideal – don’t you agree? And already two young deer danced before our eyes. Sometimes I’m amazed at how beautiful life can be. Your life to me is wonderful. Your father marvels at the beauty of you and tenderly caresses and kisses you. Do you feel him through all those protective layers?

I don’t know if you realize, that this is the first and the last time, that the two of us will so intimately be as one.

The field wherein we lie is full of multi-colored wild flowers and we lie here in all our blissful nakedness, so innocent, none would dare breath a discouraging word.

Being More Than “Motherless”

“To be nobody but yourself in a world, which is doing it’s best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

[E. E. Cummings]

It’s late here – around 1:40am and I am still awake, thinking. The reason why I can’t sleep is, that I have been thinking about my journey here and trying to figure out where I stand.

If you have spent some time on this blog, or even if you just read the in scripture at the top, you know that I started this blog in attempt to meet other motherless daughters out there who could relate to me.

Looking back at the last couple of days, it almost feel like I lost focus of that and for a while that had me confused. I took a step back and tried to figure out, if I still wanted this blog to be what I intended it to be in the beginning: a safe place for other motherless daughters.

Surprisingly, the answer is “yes”. Very much so! It is so important for me to know, that I and my feelings are not a stranded alien without a mothership on a hostile planet. I need to know, that there are others out there and I need them to know that I here too.

However, I believe the most important part in this journey is me being authentic. Even though I made the conscious decision to remain anonymous, I still want to be all the me there is with the exception of divulging my name.

Well, all the me there is isn’t just a motherless daughter. It’s also funny, crazy, boring, annoying, needy, disciplined, hard-headed, creative, independent, contradictional and a million adjectives that come with being a young woman.

I am more than just motherless and I want to be able to share this more with everybody out there as well.

Funnily enough, I have come to the realisation, that the voice of a motherless daughter is not always faint and sad, sometimes it’s loud and overflowing with life.

And that’s a good thing!

Job, Profession And Calling

“Each honest calling, each walk of life has its own élite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance”

[James Bryant Conant]

When I started this blog, my intention was to find other motherless daughters. Women who could relate to me and my story. I hoped sharing our experiences would help me shed light on my past, it’s impact of my present and give me an outlook on my future.

I found Patrice. Finding her has been a blessing on so many levels. Most of all because she showed me that my search in the online world was not in vain.

Through our conversations I have started thinking about jobs, professions and callings.

As I have stated before I am keeping this blog anonymous in an attempt to protect the privacy of family, friends and myself. Divulging that my field is that of law however is non-classified information.

I love being a part of the legal guild for so many reasons. It is not so much a job, but more a profession. I am not sure, if it’s my calling though.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t question my ability. Even at the risk of sounding conceited, I think I am pretty darn good at what I do.

What I am questioning is, if this is what I was born to do.

The first “thing” I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a cowboy. Yes, a cowBOY, not a cowgirl. Seeing as I told you all about being a tomboy growing up this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

I think I was about 5 when I decided that my calling in life was to ride and tame wild mustangs, herd cows and sleep under the starry skies of the open prairie. I blame Karl May and his wild west stories for this. If you don’t know who Karl May is, don’t worry. It’s not general knowledge as far as I am concerned. He was a german author who wrote fiction stories about cowboys and indians (most of which he published from inside his prison cell).

Anyways, after spending many spring-, summer- and fall-vacations on horseback and discovering the lacking comfort of camping, I ditched the cowboy plan.

Next, I wanted to be a children’s book author. I was in LOVE with Enid Blyton. I wanted to be “George” from the fantastic five series, I wanted to live in a boarding school like Hanny and Nanny and most of all I wanted other kids to fall in love with my stories the way I had fallen for Enid’s. I gave up on the idea when at about 12 the concept of money entered my reality. I knew I wanted to do something that would be able to support me, give me financial security and buy me $ 100,- jeans when I wanted them without the approval of my father.

That’s when I decided to become a doctor instead. There were so many hospital shows on TV and I was addicted to all of them. I wanted to heroically save lives. I wanted the stressful lives of ER doctors. I wanted to restore limbs and bring people back from the dead. So why did that dream go sour? Well, I think I mentioned before that I was an A student for the most part. This did not apply to math. I don’t know why, but figures and I never matched well. It wasn’t that I didn’t try I just never understood them. I always like saying I have “mathematical dyslexia”, because that’s exactly what it feels like to me. The logic of numbers just simply isn’t mine. In any case the minute I found out that med school involved even the slightest hint of math that was it for me.

My next great calling was that of an investigative reporter. I wanted to be in the front lines of a war field reporting live with wounded soldiers, I wanted to uncover great political scandals, I wanted to reach, touch, and inform people. I wanted my articles to be the first thing that every living person read at breakfast. My father had a journalist friend working for a popular political magazine and I spent hours quizzing him on everything there was to know. When he got layed-off, when print-media started taking its first fall, I freaked. The security money offers has always had a strong pull on me. So I buried that dream along with the rest.

Psychologie was my next big interest. I wanted to work with children who had been wounded by life. I wanted to make them “all better”, bandage their little hearts. I interned at a children’s psychiatric ward for 3 months when I was 18 to make absolutely sure, that this was what I wanted. It turns out, I was not cut out for the job. I was on a train home one night when a lady came up to me and asked me, if I was okay and if there was anything she could do to for me. Up until then I hadn’t even realized that there were tears streaming down my face and every other passenger was looking at me. I had to close that door or it would have broken me.

I flirted with the idea of international politics. I imagined myself working in Brussels, changing the world with innovative ideas, being the voice of the people. This affair was only short-lived, because I couldn’t and wouldn’t handle the cut-throat politics of the game. No pun intended.

I worked at a marketing and marketing-research company affiliated with A.C. Nielsen next and went through their trainee program and I thought this was it. I would start of as a project assistant and slowly work my way to my own accounts. Speaking english, german and french would give me an edge in the european market and I would be able to work with new clients on new products every day. It wouldn’t just be a boring old desk job. I would travel, I would see the world. After about 6 months I had it. It wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be, I was underpayed, seeing as I was the only one there without a college degree and I was working long hours and most of all week-ends. I was over it.

That’s when I realized how important college education really was. So I put my thinking cap back on and did a bit of soul-searching. My father is a lawyer, so I didn’t really have to dig that deep. I grew up around briefs, schedule hearings and inside court-rooms. I knew the reality of the job. So I applied to the school I wanted to go, was accepted and everything moved on from there.

I never really regretted my choice, but even after all this years I can’t say it’s my calling.

On the other side I couldn’t really tell you what my calling is. I am not passionate about anything else either. I enjoy numerous things, but there is nothing that holds my attention to the point of passion.

Lately I wonder, if the reason for that is, that I haven’t really figured out who I am yet.

I am an almost 30-year-old woman, but sometimes I fear, that I have never moved on past the 2 1/2-year-old girl.

All I really want to be “when I grow up” is my mother’s daughter.

 

“Conditio Sine Qua Non” Or The Difference Between “Fault” And “Causality”

“It is not the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop at the end.”

[Douglas Adams]

Conditio sine qua non” roughly translates to “Condition without which the outcome would be different”. It’s the fundamental instrument in law to distinguish between the factual responsibility of a person and his legal responsibility.

Example:

  • Giving birth to a murderer makes you factually responsible for the murders he committed, because if you hadn’t given him life he would not have been able to take the life of another human being.= Causality
  • However giving life to a murderer does not make you legally responsible for his actions in the same way you would be if you had dropped a loaded gun into his hands, turned him to face the victim and told him to pull the trigger. = Fault

To distinguish between these two parts in a chain of cause and effect is essential, not just in front of a judge and jury in a courtroom, but especially in life.

The example I used to illustrate the difference is easy. Everybody regardless of their academic training would immediately agree the mother of a murderer can not be held responsible for the deeds of her child merely on account of her giving birth to him. Tragically, in life, the situations we are faced with are not always that clear and the distinction is not always that easy.

My mother died from drowning, suffocating. The water filled her lungs preventing the oxygen to enter. Failure of oxygen to pass through her blood caused her heart to stop beating. When your heart stops beating you die. It’s very simple. Cause and effect.

Now the reason my mother drowned was because she hit her head whilst taking a bath and became unconscious causing her head to sink below the water mark. Again very logical.

The reason for her to hit her head was that she had an epileptic seizure. No questions or hesitations here either.

All of the above are facts.

Another fact is, that my mother should have taken the subscribed medication to avoid seizures. Yet she didn’t. Also she had been known to have seizures mostly when she was in contact with water and she knew that. Furthermore the autopsy report stated that when I found my mother in the bathtub, dead, at the age of 2 1/2 and the paramedics were alerted she had already been dead for several hours.

This last bit is a rather new piece of information I acquired only recently, since the subject of my mother is one not lightly breached in our household and especially with my father. It’s not that he refuses to talk about her, it is simply that he doesn’t volunteer any information on his own and freezes out the conversation until it is changed. My father, too, is a lawyer. We are both trained in the art of answering without divulging information. The difference is he is more experienced and excellent in his profession. I am unfairly matched.

All of this aside, just looking at the facts, makes it so hard to distinguish between “fault” and “causality“. So why try? Maybe because I feel safe labeling situations. I am highly organized (some people have called me “monkish”) and I like defining and sorting emotions and storing them away in little boxes to open separately. Looking at certain things with your head instead of with your heart is a strong measure of protection. It avoids having to deal with an avalanche of emotions. It avoids relenting control to an unknown.

So I decipher my mother’s fatal day, her 30th birthday, logically and analytically, as I have been trained to do. That’s what I have been doing all my life. It’s easy for me to do that.

It’s easy for me to ask: “Why was my mother in a bathtub unsupervised for several hours when it was common knowledge that she was prone to seizures in the proximity of water?” ,when I know that the answer is: “Because she would allow no one to interfere with her decisions. Because she was headstrong to a fault. Because she hated being reminded of her condition.” Causality, not fault. You see, I have just exonerated everybody still living from the (main) responsibility.

This relieves of having to confront anger and emotions towards my father to the sort of “Why didn’t you take better care of your wife, my mother? Why didn’t you check on her earlier? Why didn’t you force her to have someone present when she showered or bathed? Why couldn’t you stop this from happening?” Fault not causality.

Also, asking why my mother chose not to take her medication vital to her survival without consulting a neurologist is easy because there too I know the answer. She did it because at that point in time the medication prescribed to her drugged her to a point where she was not able to focus on an active toddler. She did it to be able to be a mother for me every moment of the day. Again causality not fault.

This answer allows me to stray from questions like “Why didn’t you find a different solution? Why wouldn’t you consult your doctor first? Why didn’t you take better care of yourself so I could have a mother for more than the first 2 1/2 years of my life? Why didn’t you do everything you could to prevent abandoning me?” Fault not causality.

This approach has worked for me for the last 20 something years to a great extent. It has kept me functioning. It has kept me focused. It has enabled me to put my emotions in labeled boxes to store away in the darker corners on my mind.

Unfortunately, this only works so far and I have come to end of my rope. I realize now, that I have to ask question that won’t heed answers easily boxed away.

I won’t be able to distinguish between “fault” and “causality” that easily anymore. It is time for me to stop calming the logical adult in me with pre-labeled answers and start comforting the 2 1/2-year-old in me who does not understand logical analysis.

I feel it’s time to come to another step in this approach: to the raw emotional one. It’s time to start acknowledging the lost little girl inside me who desperately misses her mother. Who is angry at everybody for losing her. Who feels deprived of the experience of unconditional motherly love. Who is sad and lonely and confused.

I am not entirely sure how well this approach will work for me. I know the greatest challenge will be to not fall back onto my safety blanket of logic and analysis but actually allow the full range of emotions. This thought to me isn’t scary, it’s terrifying.

The one thing I have to remind myself that it’s going to be okay, is that there isn’t just the difference between “fault” and “causality”, but also between “owning a fault” and “being legally responsible”.

Maybe my father is responsible for what happened to some extent (my mother’s death and the impact it had on my further life)? Maybe he did make mistakes? Maybe he could have and should have done better? Maybe my mother was irresponsible? Maybe she could have prevented all of this? Maybe having my mother there would have made my life easier?

Even if the answer to all of this is “Yes”, that does not mean that they have committed a crime against me. I don’t have to ask logical questions to protect them from an unfavourable judgement from the little girl inside of me. They might be responsible, but they are not at fault.

Maybe they just made mistakes. Mistakes that lead to tragic accidents. The greatest of which being my mother’s untimely end. We are all human and accidents happen.

But it still sucks!