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Grieving a Mom Who’s Still Here


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In the last six months, five of my friends’ moms have died. I am 43, which feels a little young for this mass exodus of moms to be happening. My mom is 63, healthy and here.

My relationship with my mom is estranged and feels unfixable. Her capacity for intimacy is incompatible with my desire to be nurtured. She is more of a tough-love mother, mostly unavailable in the ways that I need and want her most. My mom didn’t come to my bridal shower, first public reading or harbor me when I called her from the highway to say I was leaving my husband and needed to get away to clear my head. In that conversation she offered me three days’ respite; telling me that beyond that  I would need to find another place to stay because she had plans—after all, she said, “you always land on your feet.”

Over the years, my friends’ moms have been the nurturers that I watched with interest, hope and sometimes yearning. They were the ones who would give you their last dollar, live with you to help take care of your kids, comb your hair with their fingers and understanding because they saw you crying with a broken heart. I absolutely wanted that mom, and, I got a different one.

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Photo credit: tanakawho