Life Goes On
Every couple of years, I have periods of time when I'm in these really dark places. They're a result of a combination of life moments that add up and send me to a bit of a funk. Sometimes they're long periods of time and sometimes they're shorter. They're times when I sit and reflect on my life and can either become super bleak or use the time to reflect on what's next.
The past year has been a period of growth and reflection that I didn't really anticipate. Wading through the pandemic like everyone, I tried to keep from drowning, but I didn't and don't always know how far under the surface I'm actually trying to survive in.
My mother died over a year ago from Covid. She had been in and out of nursing homes for years. Our relationship had been strained for decades and in the past ten years, we'd fallen completely out of touch. It's hard to write this because I would never want this for myself and Catherine. My relationship with her is everything to me and to think of her not being in my life is hard to even think about. But, my mother was a different type of mother than I am and that's why we weren't in contact. I had figured out when I became a mother how simple it was to love and grow a human without belts, switches, or extension cords. When my mother died, the hope of her ever being a good mother who could love me into wholeness was gone. The happily ever after and resolution wasn't going to come as a result of my wanting it. I cried for the first few days after she passed away. Then, I sort of went into a ball. I've kept to myself and I'm trying to break out of that shell. It gets comfortable and I can focus on figuring out what's next.
My mother's life wasn't one that was fully realized. She had five kids, worked as a bus driver until she got injured on the job, and then pain and illness became her full-time pursuit. She was in and out of hospitals for various ailments for a good 30 years. Initially, she was having back surgeries to repair her slipped discs, then it went on to other things that were mostly caused by lack of movement or acquiring some form of infection or another. I honestly don't know how many times she was in and out of the hospitals, rehabs, and nursing homes over the years. I would call home to find out that she was at "Club Med" as my sisters had come to call it. In the hospital, my mother would get fixed, rest, and get attention and visitors (in the early days). She would have friends and family standing by her bedside holding her hand and wondering when it would all stop. She'd been close to death so many times that the whiplash of it had left me numb and waiting for decades for the call letting me know she'd finally died. When it came, it was the closing of a book of a life that had so much more potential. She was funny and creative. She was warm when she wanted to be. She was political and astute, but such a product of her time, that when the opportunity to tap out and not live a full life was offered, she chose one life over the other.
Catherine has grown up without grandparents on either side. She met my father once when she was little and I'd come back from Taiwan to introduce my family to my one and only child. My father was in the middle of dementia and my mother was hospitalized the day before I returned home. Cat would meet my mother again at my father's funeral three years later during brief moments of lucidity from the Vicodin or Darvocet she'd popped earlier.
Life is going on and I'm seeing what I'm going to do next. The vision has had to change so often that I've lost sight of it at times. I'm trying to tune the picture in a bit better, get rid of the noise and static, and see it all clearly. I'm scared. I'm scared that I won't find a way and that I'll end up living a life of regrets and nothing. I fear that my daughter will one day not return my calls or dislike me for holes that I've put in her heart and soul. I wrestle with this and so much more, but I press on and try to be a better mother, human, and photographer. My windows are open and I'm letting air and light in, clearing out all that was in my way.