gratitude-a-thon day 2059: mother love and loss

My mom died on this day 31 years ago. A lot of people have a sad “my mom died” story. I have one, too. The thing is, every one of them is the different, but every one of them is the same. There is a certain poignancy to losing that person who actually carried you inside of themselves for close to a year. This is a concept I have actually lived and still it seems like a notion from alien nation. I sort of hate when people say, “It’s a miracle,” but I do think that carrying a baby around inside of your body merits “miracle” as a description. No breaks, no time outs, no cut loose nights of too many cocktails, you’re on 24/7 for 9 months. It is one of the craziest things I can think of (and I have a really good imagination, I tell you).

Of course there are plenty of people who might feel a relief when their mom dies because she was difficult, or lousy at her mommying, or dysfunctional, or an aholic of some sort, or too judgemental, or selfish, or just a really horrible cook. But for me, my mom was a savior and a clown. She was there for me all the time. And she was funny and spirited and resilient.

I visit the loss on this day. I remember the surreal feelings, the deep in my gut fear, the way I slept with a pillow on top of my head in my old bedroom to somehow feel safe and protected as she lay dying in hospice care. I remember how a friend from high school left muffins at my parent’s door with a short note and how moving and lovely that simple act was. I remember driving the back roads to get to the hospice, passing through endless stretches of woods, driving by that weird dam with waterfalls that I’d passed so many times before on my way to happier places. I remember the thought of no longer having my mother to protect me and that I would now have to protect myself.

Whether your mom is alive or not, the truth I experienced when my mom passed was that simple fact–it is you who has to protect yourself, you who has to make merry, find purpose, happiness, love and meaning. It is you who must dig deep when the going gets rought, you who is the Judge Judy of your life. And it is her, that you can look back upon, for better or for worse, to take your cues.

I am grateful that Luigina Gabriela Rotello was my mom. She was more to me than she probably knew. (Does any mom know what they are to their kids, I wonder? Can any one of them imagine the enormity?) I miss her every day. And while it probably sounds maudlin, it’s not. It’s just love. Pure, unadulturated mother love. In my mom’s honor, tell your mom you love her today, and I will do the same.

One thought on “gratitude-a-thon day 2059: mother love and loss

  1. Hi, Toni.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    I am not exaggerating when I say that last night I was thinking about you while I was falling asleep. I slept in Aggie’s room w her and we can see your house from her window. I wasn’t looking out the window but just knew where I was in space and so my mind went to you. I was thinking about how grateful I was to chat with you at CVS after my mom died and was reminding myself to hold onto those empathic feelings when I have friends who newly lose their people. I swear to you it’s true. Maybe you were awake writing this piece when I was falling asleep. Maybe that’s what I felt through the window.

    I’m sorry for your loss today and all days. I love the way you describe her. I wish you had forever with her.


    Sent from my iPhone


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