Looking for Closure

We leave for Florida on Sunday.  This is the first time ever that we have decided to “go south” for the winter.  We are both originally from the Northeast, but my husband decided that the “winter” in Tennessee is now to much.

Any other year, I would be thrilled at the prospect of spending two months in a condominium on the beach in sunny Florida.  That is, once I got over my angst of what to pack, going some place different, and breaking my daily routine.  This year, I am happy, but also have an underlying sense of foreboding.

We are both embroiled in end of life scenarios with our parents.  My husbands father is still in NY, in his cottage by the ocean, driving, and living alone at age 99.

My mother is in assisted living, has two terminal cancers, and if her oncologist is correct, will not see Christmas this year.

I decided to go to Missouri last week to see my mother again.  Last time was wonderful with all the family around, but I did not feel that I had enough time alone with her.  I wanted another visit, a more personal one, to say good bye, just in case.

As I have written about before, my relationship with my mother is difficult.  In my perception, I have always been the least loved of her three children.  My mother loves and respects men, I believe that this is a generational thing.  Men make her feel more secure, taken care of, and protected.

Women, are competition.   They take attention and focus off of her.  I don’t know why this is her mind set.  Maybe it is because she was the only girl in her family, or maybe it was because she was beautiful and easily commanded attention from men, but it is how she is to this day.

I have struggled with this all of my life.  I have always questioned why I wasn’t good enough, or  smart enough to be a trusted adviser as both my brothers are.  I have always felt that she loved them more.

I have tried in the past to address my feelings with my mother, but she has always vehemently denied any favoritism.  Now, it is too late, and I have to let it go.

This proved a little more difficult than I had anticipated. As she made unwittingly hurtful comments,, I tried my best to keep a smile plastered to my face.  I was not, under any circumstances, going to confront her or ruin our time together.  I internalized all of my hurt.

That worked well until Friday morning when I woke up at 4:45 am and laid in bed sobbing like a child.


Written early morning on 11/21:

I am here, with my mom because I felt that I needed to see her before my husband and I went to Florida.  She was given two months to live in October, and we will be gone for December and January.

I have survivors guilt.  I feel as though I should be living with her in the assisted living.  I feel I should be there to take care of her and hold her hand when she dies.

I think that if I do these things, then maybe, just maybe, she will love me as much as she loves my two brothers.  If I am there for her in that way, then maybe she will be there for me in the way I have been searching for  for so long.

I will inevitably have to come to terms with this.  It is how it has always been, and it is how it will be in the end.  I need to somehow let this go.  To realize that she did the best she could to love me in her way, it just wasn’t enough for me.  It is clearly enough for her.

Nothing I can say, at this point, will change what is, and how it has been for so long.  I also realize that this is my perception, and may not be what is truly in her heart.

I will come to terms with this, and work extremely hard to let it go.  In the end, this will not be the important thing for me to carry in my heart.  I will need to remember the love and support that she offered me, maybe it wasn’t my way, but it was hers.  I am going to work to close the book on this.


Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who doesn’t mind being awoken by a sobbing woman at 6 am.  Between him and my sponsor, I got my head in the right place.

I may not have had the relationship that I thought I should have had with my mother, but she gave me the best of what she was capable of.  I can live with that.

I have also given her the best of me.  I have done all that I could possibly do to love her and take care of her since my father left 35 years ago.  That counts for something, even if I am the only one who sees it.

Our last day together was special.  We spent a lot of time talking about the past, the present and what the future holds, for both of us.

When I left, I reached down and hugged her small, fragile body,she told me she will still be there in February, and that she loves me so much,

I believe she does, and that is enough for me.








6 thoughts on “Looking for Closure

  1. Ah Magz, my heart goes out to you. Really, I could have written about my mother everything you wrote about yours. My relationship and story with my mother has a bit more of a sinister twist to it (I already wrote about it because it has affected me so deeply in the past few years), but I can so relate to your feelings. It has taken a lot of work (and pain, and tears, including mornings waking up sobbing) for me to get my heart to the place where I can forgive her. It has been liberating. But that doesn’t answer any of the questions I have about why chose to do some very hurtful things, especially…why she didn’t love me as much as I needed her to. I have had to work hard to get where you are when you wrote:

    * * * * *
    “I will inevitably have to come to terms with this. It is how it has always been, and it is how it will be in the end. I need to somehow let this go. To realize that she did the best she could to love me in her way, it just wasn’t enough for me. It is clearly enough for her.

    Nothing I can say, at this point, will change what is, and how it has been for so long. I also realize that this is my perception, and may not be what is truly in her heart.”
    * * * * *
    I don’t know if this will be helpful for you or not, and it’s long, but this is something I posted for my family on FB when I came to that point of forgiveness. Many blessings and love and hugs to you.

    I’ve been needing to state out loud, to those of you here who actually, really, truly love me…I’ve been going through a pretty horrific, isolating depression. On and off for the past 4-5 years. Mostly on. Something happened right before we moved to France, that I don’t want to talk about in this post, but it’s something that literally broke my heart. It happened right at a time in my life when I should have been the most joyful – right when I met my love and started a family. I’ve been through so many stages of grief, anger, abandonment, sadness, deep deep sadness, acceptance, and ultimately, I think, finally, joy. The elusive thing I’ve been desperately searching for in this process – for almost 5 years – has been forgiveness. The all important thing.
    A couple of months ago, I asked for, and received, some information that broke my heart OPEN and finally allowed me to sincerely and genuinely forgive. And since then, everything looks different. Hope arrived. I found the strength to accept myself. Then when Robin Williams committed suicide, for some reason, that act shook me into the NOW. I realized in a way I don’t think I ever have, that everyone in my life deserves the best version of me I can offer. Not just my husband, not just my kids, not just my family or my friends or my colleagues. But also, I deserve that person.
    I want to share this for anyone who is struggling with forgiveness, old hurts, pain, sorrow, regret…you have to believe that you DO have the power to forgive. People behave in ways that disappoint us. Some people are misguided, childish, and unfortunately…abusive. For me the key was realizing how this person was broken in the first place…the behavior I received was only a mirror, a shadow, a ripple, of what s/he experienced. Which means that original experience was even more intense than mine. And the experience that came before, even more so. People get broken. And I’ve come to realize that when we do, it’s really difficult for us to see how we’re hurting others.
    For my part, I’m experiencing a lasting, deep sense of freedom. Exhaling. And hoping that if I’ve hurt you by withdrawing in the past few years, you can find a way to forgive me.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. I had a very difficult relationship with my father going back to day 1 it seems. I did the best I could muster in his last few years. When I knew I was making the 500 mile trek to seem him for the last time, I tried to think of what I could/would say. I hit on the idea that in recovery, I have come to know a life that I would not change for anything in the world. As he was a big influence on the direction that life took early on to get to where I am at today, I thought I could thank him for that. So in my last meeting with him in the hospice room, I said something like “Thanks for everything and I love you” which completely shocked him and he acted as he did not understand me, so I repeated the statement. The essence was when I walked out of the room, from a selfish perspective, I thought I had done what I needed to do to make things right in some way. As my father was someone who also grieved over his life circumstances, I assume the conversation was meaningful to him as well. I had one more phone conversation with him before he died. We talked about nothing of substance about our difficult past, but instead going to see the Reds play at the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, houses he used to live in, and so forth.

    I could have done a lot more and a lot less in his last couple of years where he remained bitter, angry, and just downright mean. But I did what I did, and I currently do what I do with my mother – calling her on the phone every few weeks to chat. Those conversations get longer and longer as she gets more and more lonely. Like much of life, there is always tension between what could be done and what will be done. I know that there will never be a complete at ease balance – so all I can do is the best indicated step for this day.

    Best wishes.

    PS. as a current resident of Memphis, with the first dusting of snow, I look forward to when I permanently retire to the warmer climate in New Orleans.

    • I guess we all have such high expectations of people, and then we need to see them as the flawed humans they are, and that we are as well. I can only hope that my children do not feel the same. On that miserable morning, I called my son, who has always felt second to his sister, and clarified, that I do not and never have loved her more.
      I believe that my recovery has also opened my eyes to many things that would have left unresolved, and still creating pain. I am the one with the power to heal myself, that power is letting go, and making amends. Both will make me heal and live a better life,
      PS I am in East Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountains. It really isn’t cold compared to Boston where I am from originally. I often miss the silence and beauty of the snow, just not when it is still falling in May! 🙂

  3. Oh gosh. I am in tears. Of joy. Through all of that you have come to an understanding and working on being at peace with that. It is a blessing that she got the chance to say that she loves you, for both of you. Hugs and thanks for this inspiring post.
    Love and light!

  4. Beautiful post, SL. thank you for sharing that with us. What a painful and yet reflective time you are going through. I admire your courage and honesty. We can’t always figure people and things out. Sometimes we have to accept what they tell us- trust that they are expressing their truth, even though its different from what we think it is, if that makes sense. Sending love to you from cold and wet Canada! xo

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