Today is the first time in 38 years a total eclipse has been visible in our part of the world. There are countless memes, millions of travelers, and lots of money exchanging hands to capitalize on this event.
Yet for me, I’m remembering a different kind of eclipse. 33 years ago on this day I woke up knowing it was the day my mom would die. My 9 year old self just knew. My dad asked me that morning if I was coming with him to the hospital to see her. I replied, “No, I don’t want to see her die. She told me not to.” His eyes were sad as he turned to leave. He simply said, “Okay, if that’s what you want.” I did want to see her, but she told me not to so I didn’t go.
I spend the day 4 houses down from my own house. We were sitting down to eat dinner. I remember looking around the table and feeling like everything was quickly fading away. I started crying and screaming, “She’s dead!”. I have a vague memory of my friend’s dad carrying up the stairs to her room. I must have fallen asleep. Next thing I know, my dad is at the front door. I take one look at him and run home. I burst through the door to see my sister and her husband (at the time) in our living room. I think he told me mom had died, but I can’t remember the words.
Anguish overtook me. The world literally went black for me.
Nothing was the same after that.
I had already spent my early years feeling out of place as the brown adopted kid that wasn’t wanted. The days and weeks after that only confirmed the lie I believed about not belonging. It followed me around for decades and even now will rear it’s ugly head. Only now I can recognize it as a lie and dispel it before it has any power over me.
I spend the next 6-7 years crying myself to sleep every night. In fact, I think I’ve spent more than half my life crying myself to sleep. I spent decades entertaining suicidal thoughts and basking in depression. A quiet rage filled me. Sometimes it wasn’t so quiet.
I missed having mom at my highschool graduation. When she was in the hospital she told me to promise her that I’d graduate from highschool and not do drugs. I was committed to that. I was the first girl in our family to graduate from highschool. I don’t know if she did and I can’t imagine her mama did either since it wasn’t so common for a woman to do so back then.
I missed having her as a grandma to my firstborn.
I missed holidays. They pretty much quit after she died.
I missed watching Portland wrestling with her. My dad would watch it with me, but it wasn’t the same.
I remember her and a friend, Lois, singing Goodnight Irene. We were sitting at the kitchen table. I was in my dad’s chair as the two old ladies sang Good Night Irene. For some reason, it’s this moment that stands out to me. Her laughter came easily that evening and her green eyes shone brightly. I was sent to bed soon after that. I loved falling asleep listening to them laugh together.
I recently went to Buck Hollow Cemetery where my parents are buried. As I entered the graveyard I could clearly remember that first moment at the funeral. A group of people gathered, lots of flowers, and people looking at me with sad eyes. I’m seated in the front row. I look at the flowers and think, “Mom would like those flowers.” Then I remember why we’re there. I can’t remember crying. I don’t think I cried much in front of people. I’m more of a lone cryer.
Who was going to take care of me?
Who would love me?
How am I supposed to live without her?
I really did feel like life stopped for me.
I was surviving until I died and I hoped that happened sooner than later.
Those feelings have changed now. I don’t want to die. More than ever, I want to live fully in this life I’ve given.
I still wonder what it would have been like having a mom in my teen years. Yet, I’m also incredibly grateful for my life, even life without her. My dad was the best dad ever. I miss him more than I can even describe.
I will watch this eclipse with my family and friends. I will fully enjoy every moment with them.
What are your plans on this eclipse day?