“Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” – The Crow
This post hurts. It’s been hard as hell to sit down and do it, even though a part of me has been needing to write it. I’m struggling to find words.
You see, on July 8th, 2023, my life changed forever.
My beloved mother, my first cheerleader, passed away suddenly.
She’d been sick, problems with her gallbladder making eating uncomfortable and a near-constant upset stomach, but she didn’t like to talk about it and have people listen to her “gripe”, she’d say.
Now I never get to hear her voice again and the thought rips a hole in my heart. Talking to her was one of the highlights of my week, even in dark times when the world or my depression was getting to me. Especially then. I always called her mid-week, and on the weekends sometimes too.
We talked about everything and nothing. Mostly about what I was up to, who had last talked to my siblings, and the state of politics. My mother was a life-long hippie and activist. She was a flower child, and still believed (most of the time) that we could change things for the better.
She was also a poet, and we talked about writing and her upcoming readings. She was really proud of her poetry. As she should be. Her poetry is incredible. I think my favorite collection of her works was called i have been a river: selected poems of Pamela Twining. I know it contains my most favorite of her works, pilgrim heart, which goes like this:
your name is Love
and i have sought you
in all the rooms and corners of my soul
down the long corridors of Days
in dreams and nightmares
when memories are not enough
i look to heaven
i know your name
your name is Love
through my most grievous fault
my soul was severed from completeness
a moment’s lack of Trust
consequences reverberate through Time
i raised my lamp high
the better to see you
one drop of oil fell
burning your shoulder, startling you awake
and in that moment
knowing i was not Whole
i know your name
which you chose to hide from me
but i rebelled
claiming more than you were willing
to give me then
and so i lost you
always seeing you flickering
in my Deepest Vision
shimmering in my Joyous sight
when i approach
as the light waves in my eyes disband
dissolved in tears
our love was Whole
i bear the children your soul offered me
Light and Inspiration
you asked one thing of me
and i could not see
in Blindness failing not only you
i know your name
your name is Love
and when we meet again
i’ll tell you mine
Isn’t it beautiful? Gives me chills every time I read it. She had a blog called The Open Door, with more poetry on it, as well as some videos on Youtube of her readings. She had amazing presence. The world is a little dimmer without her light.
I’d like to tell you about her. More than just that she was a poet and my mother. Both of which are true, but hardly a fraction of her incredible being. There’s her obituary if you want the facts of where she was born (Maryland) and where she went to school (Vassar) and stuff like that. But it, too, barely begins to encompass everything she was and is. To me and others.
I remember so much about her, and yet I know there are things I’ll never know. It’s impossible to know every single thing about another person. She meant different things to me than she did to even my siblings, who experienced her in different ways than I did. My uncle, her brother, has memories of her that stretch back to their shared childhood. He saw the teenage version and the new mother version and a thousand versions I wasn’t around for yet.
So many people have been sharing memories of her with me these last few months.
It’s been beautiful and amazing and painful at the same time. I want to hear them all, but hearing them makes my heart ache.
I am never going to not miss her. I know this in my soul. There will never come a time when I stop wishing I could pick up the phone and call her. As long as I am alive, I will grieve for my mother.
And then? Hopefully, I’ll see her again.
You see, this has strengthened my belief that there is something after. I’ve always felt so, but it was a more intellectual feeling. Now, it makes no sense to me that there be nothing afterward. It’s scientifically impossible to destroy matter. So her matter is out there. It’s still part of the Universe. I know this is a fact.
And yes, it comforts me to think I still live in a world where she exists somehow, even if it’s not the way I’m used to seeing her. My mother was always such a spiritual person and since her death, I swear I’ve felt her close to me, urging me to connect more with my own spirituality. She would never preach. She wasn’t one of those. But just by being, she was a lesson in speaking with a higher power. That’s what her poetry was, mostly.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this, except I wanted to talk about her. I want to share her with all of you out there in the world, wherever you are. Because no one’s ever really gone. Not as long as we remember them.
I remember her singing to me as a child. Not just childhood nursery rhymes but the songs she grew up loving. She loved music and would often try to encourage me to dance, even though I’ve always been afraid.
She told me, when I was a budding woman, how you never scream “rape”, you scream “FIRE” because then someone will come. And she told me, if someone doesn’t come, you fight! You kick and bite and scratch. If they cover your mouth you bite their fingers. Bite them off if you have to.
It didn’t occur to me then that she was speaking from experience.
She had so many experiences. Stories she told me, about going to concerts and protests and the roller rink with her new skates. And all the stories she didn’t tell me, because I was her daughter. I wish she was still here so I could ask her about those too, and not roll my eyes and cringe if she started talking about sex or drugs.
My mother thought I was a bit of a prude because of that. I would say, “Mom, I write erotica!” and she would counter with, “Then you should know what I’m talking about!”
I know my mom was proud of me for pursuing a writing career. She was always a champion for it, even when other people suggested it wasn’t a stable career move. She never once seemed to entertain the idea that I wouldn’t succeed. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always been so confident in my abilities.
Now, I know she was my mother and she had to say I was good. But she was also a writer herself. She would critique my work… if I asked. Mostly I didn’t because she was a poet and thought I used too many words.
Just like I’m doing here.
The important thing is to hug your loved ones, every chance you get. Tell them you love them. Because tomorrow isn’t promised. One day will be the last day you talk to them, and you want to make sure they know.
Also, and this is me asking as a grieving daughter, so you have to listen…
Please, please, please take care of yourselves. Eat good food, do things that make your heart happy, spend time with those you love.
I love you all.
PS: If you have a memory of my mother, please do share it in the comments. I would love to hear them. Even the sex and drugs ones.
PPS: If you’re feeling so inclined, you can donate to the GoFundMe, which I posted to help cover her funeral and memorial costs. We’re almost there!