Death is hard. But death within your family can be even more difficult.
I lost my mom young, many people know this about me. Strangers that inquire about the tattoo on my shoulder quickly get the story and all of the love pours out of me. I don’t mind talking about my mom anymore, although I used to. Now, it’s more of a blessing to be able to fill the ears of anyone who will listen. I loved her so much, but in a very odd way I feel like I love her even more now.
With love and loss comes a very intense sense of possession. They don’t prepare you for this. (who are “they”? I certainly don’t know them, cause they didn’t prepare me for shit.)
I clung to her life through her stuff; her drivers license, her purses, rings, clothes… and yes even her socks. (Don’t ask… I was 14)
Several very momentous items were left to me. A gift from the grave I call them.
Her wedding dress, which to much dismay does not fit me and never will. I am 4+ inches taller than my mom and in a result also wider (thanks for the hips Mom). I can use the fabric, re-tailor it, completely remake it, but in the end I can’t actually wear her dress (assuming someone marries me someday).
Her rings and jewelry, several pieces I have to have resized, which is a New Years gift to myself… not a cheap one might I add, but I really want to wear her rings. She was a very decorative lady and all of her pieces meant something to her, specifically my grandmothers ring. I have always felt a connection to my grandma, although I never met her (she passed away before I could), but I remember seeing her presence in my dreams the day my mother died. She has always been with me, she was a huge part of my mother, and I want to carry them both with me.
Her Snowbabies collection, a curio cabinet full of snow covered babies in scenarios that are perpetually in winter. I have this in my living room… I hate winter, but I love those weird little figurines. There are plenty of other random little nick knacks in there as well. I don’t when, where, or why she had them, but I put them up as they stood for years (cue the creepy doll in the dark feeling).
I have a multitude of photos, albums, old coats, scarves and random little things that belong to her. Every piece means such an incredible amount to me. It might seem cryptic, but I feel her near me when I touch these things.
With all of these things comes tension between the family though. When mom died my dad had his sisters go through and clean out her closets, almost all of her clothes and shoes were removed and donated while I was gone one day. The few things I have left therefore are quite precious. You can imagine how furious 14 year old hormones can get when things change, let alone when things are gone. I screamed at him for what felt like an hour, hysterical that mom was gone, enraged that he would just “throw her away”… at least that’s how I saw it (I was a moody teen, so sue me).
Years passed, more of her things were purged, all us kids had moved out and started our lives. We figured it all out, right? Wrong… very wrong.
I posted a Facebook status (I get it, I’m a millennial… yada yada) yesterday about my tears at the jewelry store when I dropped off my mothers rings to be sized, it went like this:
“I’m pretty sure the guy that owns the jewelry store thinks I’m insane… I handed him a ring, said I wanted it sized and then started crying. Dropping off moms jewelry to size it to fit me was incredibly and unexpectedly emotional. #crazyringlady”
It garnered a multitude of likes and lovely, supportive comments like, “She would be so proud that you want to wear her ring lady”, “Hugs to you, your mom would have cried too”, and “What a complement to your Mom! She would love you to wear her jewels!”. I love what my mom can still do to people, even ones who never met her, she was such a loving lady.
But on the other hand, from my own brother, I received a nasty, hurtful message. “Thanks for reminding me this morning that I have nothing of moms and never will.” When I asked him, what of hers he would like, I get “It’s obvious you are already acting like you always do when this subject comes up about her or Grandpa”. (I have a couple dead animals and a ceramic cheetah from my grandpa… that’s it. I had a car for awhile from his will, but it broke down.)
I get where he is coming from to an extent, I am possessive of these things and I am never willing to part with them. They were left to me, they only make sense to be with me as I am the girl. But I didn’t realize he had “nothing”.
Bring on the real Family Feud!
I can argue till I am blue in the face how much each thing means to me and why I may have it instead of him, but at the end of the day he is still furious at me that he doesn’t have them. How do you battle that? How do you explain to your brother, someone you love dearly, that you will not give him these things. I would give him anything else of moms that I have, but not those things. It is not out of spite, it is not out of selfishness (ok.. maybe a little, but it’s from a good place), it is purely the connection these pieces give me to my mother. She has been gone for 13 years and we are still arguing about her “stuff”.
With a distance from here to Japan, I struggle to find ways to stay close to my brother and his little boy. I try to stay in touch, give him inside information to my life first, update him when family is in the hospital, anything to make him feel closer to us. But, in reality I have always had a feeling that he has tried to run from us since mom passed.
He joined the Marine Corps, an incredibly “holy shit I am proud of my brother!” moment. He lived in California during that time, so I flew to Cali my senior year of High school, Junior year college Spring Break (where he spent the week hitting on my roommate), Senior year Thanksgiving and after I graduated for a job interview (got the job, turned it down). Then he moved to Kentucky for awhile and after he broke his back, off to Japan he went. I sadly have not sprung for my passport, so for the last few years I have been held to seeing him when he comes home. All of this distance, I feel like I have tried, but to my middle brother it is never enough. Maybe I am not realizing that I need to do more. All of it possible.
My oldest brother and I do not have this same issue, he never yells at me about moms things, never brings me down, and we mutually visit each other as often as time permits. He also has a youngin so I try to visit as much as I can considering the closer proximity (couple cities away instead of a couple countries). We argue about scenarios that happened when we were kids and where we should meet for dinner, things that usually end up with us laughing more than actually fighting.
Death is weird in this way… I don’t know if my relationship with my middle brother will always be a fight or if we will someday just simply support each other (cause when he is supportive, he is my biggest fan, hands down). Maybe this is our relationship, hate you today, love you tomorrow, and round and round. Maybe it will get worse, maybe it will get better. I would be surprised if he read this even, cause then maybe we would be one step closer.
If he does read this, as you just have, I hope you all gather the same feeling about me. I love my mother, I love my father. Even when I am burning mad, I will always love my brothers. But at the end of it all, it’s not just stuff to me.
I am sorry bro if what I do hurts you, if what I have pains you to miss, I really do not mean to cause you this. If I could bring her back I would, if I could fill the hole I would. If I could duplicate what remains or detach myself from it, I would. I wish I could be there, I wish you were here.