So I tried to think back: When was the last time she was truly my mother? When, in the sense that SHE mothered ME, and not the other way around?
The memory came to me hard. It was the summer of 2011. We were on vacation, and Mom was with us, actually adding to our stress because her mobility and mental state had begun to decline - but she insisted on being in the center of everything. That horrible summer when Babygirl had just been diagnosed with kidney failure and we were out of time and options. (The Beach.....). That relentlessly horrible vacation with the daily phone calls that just kept adding and adding and adding to the stress until I finally couldn't take it anymore.
Mom was there for me while I cried, and I REALLY cried. I cried forever, out in public, on the boardwalk for the love of ALL that's holy. I must have looked like the worst kind of wreck, and she never once suggested that I was over-reacting or needed to 'just calm down.' She just stayed with me and held on until the storm passed. I can still feel it - her unconditional love and support.
It wasn't long after that that she became incapable of those things. Not that she didn't love us - she always did - but she couldn't remember that we had any kind of problems going on that might be bigger than whatever was drifting through her mind at the moment. If I could go back to anything, I'd want to go back to when she was fully present, for that was one of her great gifts, and something she was always far better at than me: To live fully in the moment.
This. I miss this.
A few years later, a stranger....
And in the end, this....