A letter to my mother, whose mother is alive and well.
I am 22-years-old, and barely beginning to feel like an adult. I’m openly overemotional, often uninspired, always aspiring, and busy throwing myself neck deep into anything I think will make me feel something. I pursue passion with a vigor that is unrivaled, but it doesn’t partner with perseverance, and I feel lost a lot.
Some days I’m positively vibrating with all the radiant beauty and light in my life, and some days I feel so lonely I can barely stand up. I know how to take deep breaths and do what needs to be done even when it hardly feels worth it; I know because I spent my life watching you pick yourself up.
At times you have accidentally invalidated me in your strength; what a paradox. You’re so strong, so steeled and seasoned, that watching me revel in my pain contradicts you. It’s easy for me to understand.
As often as you are strong, you are vulnerable. This is an inconsistency I have long valued in you. I know from watching for a long time that only I see that part of you. I know that you cry every single time we talk on the phone not because you cry often, but because crying in the comfort of my love has become a luxury, and you can hardly help but leak your doubts in the one safe place you know.
I am your child, and I have grown from your heart, and as long as I can remember, I have been your best friend. I challenge you overtly, make you laugh deeply and honestly, listen to your fears, and offer whatever limited perception I can of the worlds we share, and the worlds we don’t.
I think about growing older a lot, and though I try to deny it, I am very afraid. Even now, I feel as if I am very close to the end of my life, and I feel scared that suddenly I blink and I’m looking back on everything I’ve ever loved, trying to piece together how I’ll be able to let it all go. This panic takes me over at times, and I would be trapped in it if something didn’t stop me. But every time, this thought gives way to another.
The uneasiness of my own mortality is a flickering candle in the distance compared to the sorrow that consumes me when I realize that before I will grow old, you will grow old.
It has been my nightmare for as long as I can possibly recall… I hear stories, or I meet someone who has lost a mother and I weep without constraint. I used to keep myself up at night as a child in terror, because I worried that thinking about it would make it come true.
In a sense I am frail. Stability is fleeting within me, and my most constant battle is one to maintain my sanity in a world that seems bent on robbing me of it. I’m self-critical, I know, but there are dark places inside of me that I am afraid of, and I’ve only ever seen a few truly brilliant rays. I worry that I would be utterly past hope without you.
I’m writing you this letter, while you are alive and well, and while your mother is alive and well, because I don’t know any other way to explain. With any luck it will be decades before I ever have to live my hell, but I need you to know beyond all doubt, right now, that I love you terribly, that I have always needed you, and that I will always need you.
I hardly think anyone is truly worthy of a mother’s unconditional love; I know I’ve never earned it, and never had to ask. Though at times the trenches I dig entrench me, and the paths we’ve run together seem doomed, my heart is absolutely overflowing with affection for my mother – what a gift it has been to always know your light.
I love you.
January 18th, 2015