And yes, I did and I was, and I still am occasionally. Because nobody told me this would hurt so bad. Nobody told me how to do this. And I still don’t think I can. Not entirely. Not completely. Not all the way.
But because my gift is words, I wrote this to tell her how I feel about her being gone. Because she left me. She left us. And I am not ready to be without her. None of us are. But we have to get there. We have to do this. I have to do this. Because she left me no choice. But I still had to tell her, and everyone, that I didn’t think I could. Even as I’ve done this. Even as I move forward. Even as I go on.
I can’t do this.
But I will. I am. I have to. Because she’s gone.
So, with that, here are the words I wrote for Mother’s Eulogy, that I delivered far too soon in my life. Far too soon. And I hope she heard them. And I hope she understands.
I can’t do this… I just can’t do this.
I think I’ve said these words at least a million times over the last few days. In fact I think I said them about 5 min. ago. And again, 2 min. ago. And, oh yeah, right about now.
I just can’t do this.
And yet I can. I am. With strength that I never even knew I had. Strength I’m finding from places I never ever knew about. The strength my Mother is giving me now. The strength she lived her life with. Every day, and in every way.
My mother is dead. But when she was alive, my mother was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She was petite and feminine, and made of high tensile steel. She could bend, but she didn’t break. She could do anything.
But what she did best was love us – my sister and I – more than anything, more than life itself. And that thought, that she loved us that very much, is what is allowing me to do this. To tell you about our Mother. And to tell you that we really aren’t sure whether we can do this without her. You see she was as ubiquitous as air and water for us. She was everything and everywhere. And if she can be taken away so fast then we’re not entirely certain about the supply of those other necessities of life.
She was our necessity. She was our world.
So many people have told us over the past several days of her kindness, her generosity, her loving nature. And we knew those things about her. But as her daughters it took many years for us to actually see that side of her. Because she was our mother. And a Mother’s love isn’t entirely free. After all, they’re the ones who make us, and their expectations are large, because they want everything for us. Everything. And so it takes years for a Mother to become your friend. Mom was that for us, so now we’ve lost not only our mother, we’ve lost our friend.
We still needed her. We still had so much to learn.
But now we’ll have to learn those lessons from other people. And we’ll also have to pull those lessons from inside ourselves. Where she lives now. Because she’s there. I know she is. Probably better than anybody. Because every time I’ve said I can’t do this, and every time I’ve broken down and cried, something makes me stand back up, dry my tears, and do whatever it is that needs to be done.
Just like she raised me to do. Just like she would do. Just like we’ve seen her do so many times before.
Just like now.
And that’s why although I say that I can’t do this, the next thing I do is do whatever it is that needs to be done. Because that was what she did. That was her skill. Doing what has to be done. And we’ll do the same thing.
But not yet. Not now. Because now we have to mourn her. We have to say goodbye. But saying goodbye to her is the one thing we cannot do.
We can’t do this.
And that’s why we’re not. This is not a goodbye. This is not the end. This is just the next step we’ve moved into in our lives together. The stage where I’ll say things like “I have to call Mom” and then I’ll realize that I can’t. The stage where I’ll think “I can’t do this” and then from somewhere her hand will push me forward to do whatever needs to be done.
Yes, she’s with us still. Pushing us. Helping us to go on. Helping us to do this. All of us. Making us do this right. And loving us just as fiercely in death as she ever did in life. While we do this hard thing we have to do.
But before we do this hard thing, I have to read these words. And I have to try to explain how we feel. But I can’t. I just can’t. So I will use someone else’s words, and thoughts, because for the first time I’m finding myself struggling for my own.
I know, who thought that was even possible, right? But regardless, I will allow Mr. W.H. Auden speak for me in his beautiful poem “Funeral Blues”.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message She Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
She was our North, our South, our East and West,
our working week and our Sunday rest,
Our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song;
We thought that she would last for ever: We were wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
And with those words, poured from my heart and my tear-filled eyes, I said goodbye to my Mother. I know we all believe that she’s gone on to a better place. That she’s better off. But as I sit here, looking at dying flowers, looking at dying beauty, all I feel is loss. Hurt. Pain. And emptiness. This is her home, she’s supposed to be here, but she isn’t. And she never will be again. And now all there is left are things. Things that remind us of her. As she used to be. Things that are as dead as she is.
That’s permanent I hear. Or so they tell me. But I’m not entirely sure that I want to believe them. I hope she knows how much she is missed. I hope she knows that we want her back.