All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
I don’t know what the proper way to begin a letter like this is supposed to sound like. Hey, Wassup, How are you, … Those all seem so casual or urban-esque in a sense and all too familiar on the other hand. They possess a comfort and familiarity that is surely appropriate but they are very bland greetings. Like hood-cordial and not motherhood-cordial. “Dear” seems just as awful for some reason. It’s like I’m writing to a pen pal or something. Although this specific letter is addressed to a person so far away and inaccessible of sorts, so I guess it is like that, like writing a letter to a pen-pal. But “Dear” just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Guess that’ll do.
It’s Mother’s Day. It’s Mother’s Day 2014. I’m 35 years old and I have spent the last 20 Mothers’ Days without one. You’ve been out of my life 5 years more than you were in it. That is crazy when I think of it like that. I had 15 years with you and I’ve spent 20 years having to remember you.
And well that’s been a very hard thing to do. I haven’t done the best at it either. I haven’t “honored” your memory as I would have liked or as I believe you would have wanted. I think that I’ve probably disappointed you more than anything. These last 20 years have been a mess and I’ve made a mess of them. It sounds good to say that I should have “manned up” or took responsibility or moved on but the truth is that I spent most of these 20 years as a paralyzed runner. That sounds impossible but it is exactly what I was doing, running, paralyzed.
I’m visiting a friend right now in Atlanta. Every night I sleep on the floor in her living room. The other morning she came in to wake me and she asked why do I choose to sleep on the floor as opposed to on the couch or in the guest bed that she offered me. She asked why have I always chosen to sleep in the most uncomfortable places. I didn’t answer her.
Later that same morning I got a text from another friend, who had visited me the night before, that read:
Last night I saw you through a different lens, a different viewpoint (in a good way). I want you to know that you have my support… I will always love you.
My response was…
“What Lens was that?”
I texted back…
blank stare. Not really expecting that response….
Hmmmm, so… Expound…
I immediately dialed her number to hear her explanation for how it was that she came to now see me as your son. The first thing she said was that you had done an amazing job instilling values and beliefs in me. She said that considering the relatively short amount of time that I had experienced your physical presence in my life, I had gained a great deal of perspective and insight through the channels of a mothers love. She began to express her observations of my character and habits and how they lined up with all of the things that I’ve ever spoken of in regards to how amazing of a mother you were. She is a very spiritual person and I value her input and thoughts, especially where she is speaking from the spirit and soon she began to express how profoundly aware my presence is of you. She said that she could now see how powerful of a presence you were to me. And then she said this:
You have longed for her ever since. That’s what you have been looking for. That’s why you run. That’s why you are the way you are. Her death left you with a void. You’ve been trying to find something, someone, to fill that void.
Immediately I thought about my other friend asking me why I choose to sleep on floors and how could I be comfortable there.
As she spoke on the other end of the phone my mind began to race at a speed that I’ve never experienced before. Thoughts started coming to me so fast. I started replaying the last 20 years of my life. It’s like I was time traveling through a vortex of some sort and yet I was standing still. I had walked outside when the phone call begin and now I was standing in the parking lot of this apartment complex but everything was moving. Now I was paralyzed, running.
And all of these thoughts and questions began to echo in my head. I started to remember so many people asking me the same questions. And then I saw myself on everyone’s floor. I saw myself as a young man wandering, looking for you. So much started to make sense. I started thinking about everything. I was standing there feeling like a baby longing to be picked up and nurtured, cared for, cared about. I started seeing my actions and my habits. I started seeing my fears and my beliefs. We were on the phone and I was talking but at the same time my mind was totally somewhere else. I was bewildered almost. And then there were tears running down my face. I don’t know if that was from the overwhelming of emotion or from the pollen affecting my allergies but tears were skiing down the slope of my cheeks and crashing to the ground faster than I could wipe them away. So I let them fall. I stood there and we talked but the entire time I was remembering.
Mom, I miss you.
And the truth is that I’ve not felt like I belonged anywhere since you’ve been gone. I’ve not felt comfortable for any sustained period of time since your death. And it’s so obvious. As I stood outside on that phone conversation I began to play back 20 years worth of trying to replace you or find someone that believed in me and spoke life in me, and cared for me, as you had. Every girlfriend, every associate, every encounter, all of them were measured to the standard of what I had perceived you to be. Every relationship, association, energy, they were all held to a very unrealistic idea of what I felt I needed to have.
But there was so much hurt and pain and distrust. And there was no closure or resolution and so it was an impossible task, no one ever had a chance at “getting in” because I had long closed the door behind you. Losing you took so much of me away and I was unable to afford to take that chance again. So I’ve refused to love or care or believe or trust. All in theory. The fact is that all I’ve wanted was those things.
As we talked on the phone I started to admit that it, all of this past 20 years, was all about you. So much of it was anger directed at you. I’ve never said aloud how angry I was at you. I blamed you and your secrets for causing me this pain. What happened to you should have been avoided had you told someone what was going on. And you taught us that what went on in our house was to stay in our house. I’ve hated that sentiment but I model it. I mirrored it. I did the exact same thing. I became my own house and what has gone on in me I’ve kept with me. Because I didn’t trust anyone. Because I didn’t want to trust anyone or love anyone or care for anyone. Because you lose them. And losing the person that you love, trust, and care for, hurts so damn much! And it leaves a void and no one cares. They just expect you to “move on”. They tell you that you got to “move on”. That’s all I’ve ever been told, “Move on!”…
And I didn’t want to move on. Moving on meant forgetting you. And that’s what everyone else did. They moved on. They forgot about you. They let it go. No one fought for you. No one fought for your children. No one sought justice or resolution or closure. They all shut up. And they told me to shut up. And that’s why I don’t feel comfortable. That’s why I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. That’s why I’ve ran. You taught us to love and stay together and to trust and to believe and to have faith. And your voice was big. Everyone heard you. Everyone felt you. When you died, they all went silent. And I was just a kid. Your oldest, but just a kid. And everyone told me that I was supposed to be responsible. I was supposed to be good. I was supposed to make you proud. But I was hurt. I was hurting really bad. But no one cared to hear that part. They told me to move on. And I tried. But I didn’t. I just ran, paralyzed.
I was afraid. I panicked. I made some very bad choices and used very poor judgement over the years. But there was no structure. There was no discipline. The ship that you ran so tightly ran amuck soon after you had to surrender your duties as captain. The ship didn’t sink, it’s just drifted abroad in your absence. It veered far off course. And no one cared or seemed to care to steer it right. They just let it go.
For a long time I figured that because of who you were and what you had put in me, I was able and capable of righting the ship and carrying the load and getting to where your instruction and direction had mapped for me to go. I was your co-captain and I thought I knew the way. I was sure I knew the way. Come to find that I didn’t know all that I thought I did. You’d left some information out. Maybe you were waiting until I was older or had more experience. Maybe you needed me to be more mature or more organized or more responsible before you told me the secrets, but you didn’t tell me, and then you no longer had a chance to. And here I am in the middle of this vast ocean of life. With no map. I’m ambitious. I’m careful. I’m composed. I’m special. But I’m lost.
Mom, I miss you.
Over the last two days I’ve been paralyzed by this overwhelming sense of enlightenment. I’ve had a real life AHA moment. I see what Oprah means. I cannot believe that it was that obvious. Looking back, it all makes sense. Actions do speak louder than words, in fact, actions are the words of the soul. Your actions express your true feelings and fears. All they have to do is be observed. All someone has to do is watch you.
Mom, I miss you.
Yesterday while sitting and contemplating what to do with this newfound information and perspective, I heard a quote on the tv. It always seems that a quote appropriately comes when I need a way to accurately define a perspective in my life. I was sitting there and I heard,
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
It makes so much sense. That quote, the last couple of days, the last 20 years. I completely understand. What a discovery.
I miss you, Mom.
And it’s Mother’s Day.
I want you to know how much you mean to me. I want you to know what you meant to me. I want everyone else to know. The truth is that I’ve also come to the realization and belief that you are with me, in spirit, and in my heart, so you know these things that I am about to say. That is what faith is. That is what my faith is. My faith is that although you are no longer here physically, you are here spiritually and in my heart and in my mind and in memory. I believe that you lived your life the best that you knew how and it is unfair of me to hold onto to an idea that had you done or said something different, things would have been different. That’s not for me to decide. That’s unfair for me to suggest or suppose. That’s not what you would have instructed or inspired me to do. You would have inspired me to feel and express and to take the challenge of going forward with appreciation and gratitude for the time I did have. You would have definitely told me to “Move on!”…
Mom, I miss you.
I remember your hands. The same hands that prepared meals and nursed wounds, wiped crust from my eyes and held the belt that disciplined any wayward behavior. I remember your hands. I remember them rubbing my face to sleep and holding my own as you prayed over me. I remember them grabbing my face to force me to pay attention when you saw that I wasn’t listening to your instruction. I remember your hands typing and doing dishes and pointing in the air as you danced and strutted to a song. I remember your blue housecoat. I remember you blasting the Kirk Franklin cd on the radio with the blown speakers. Silver and Gold, is the song I remember. I remember those encyclopedias. I remember the trips to the museum. I remember every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and 4th of July. I remember when I changed that grade on my report card. I remember the good times. I remember the bad times. I remember your signature. I remember our phone number.
Mom, I miss you.
Thank you for every life lesson. The ones you spoke as well as the ones you showed me. No one is supposed to fill your shoes. Those shoes are to be bronzed and mantled, martyred for the purpose of inspiring me to press forward and to realize my own dream and purpose. That’s what a mother’s dream and purpose is, to inspire and instill and example in her children to become, to do, to be. You did that. You did a wonderful job at that. It was selfish of me to have taken up these years wishing that you would have done more or left more or explained more. Although it is understandable, it is still selfish. You did what you could and I thank you for that. I was mad that your life was cut short and ended without you ever being able to see or share in my accomplishments and joys. But you would not have accepted such behavior from me if you were here. You would have forced me to get up and dust myself off from whatever dirt had stained me and you would have used those hands to point, place, or push me in the direction that you knew in your heart I was capable of going. I know you would not have settled for excuses or justifications because you would have told me that the world will not wait on my excuses or justifications to keep moving.
I remember you saying that, “… Punishment will reign swift and severe.”, in regards to me not doing what I was supposed to. I hear it now. I get it now. I thank you for the warnings and cautions of a mother’s love.
I remember you telling me that no one had a gift like mine. I remember you pushing me to believe in myself enough to not require anyone or anything else to believe in me, for me. I understand those conversations now. That’s why I have never felt comfortable. I was looking for someone else to give me what I thought you had given me but you always told me that what I had was in me. No one could give me me, but me.
You told me that I was an amazing man and that I would grow up to be an even more amazing man. You told me that women would always fall in love with me because I was genuine and sincere and authentic. You told me that I would probably have lots of kids and be married early on in life because I had all of the qualities of a great man, mate, and father. You told me that I would be okay. You told me that I would be okay.
Mom, I’ve missed you.
I got off the floor last night. Actually I never even got on the floor. I went directly to bed. I got in the bed that she offered me. I slept well last night. I cut off the lights and the tv and I pulled up a TD Jakes sermon on my phone. “Transformational Thinking” was the title I think. It was about changing your mind. It all starts in your mind. I heard what he was saying last night. I get it. The things you taught me have always been there, my mind was just so full of “stuff” like anger and guilt and shame and frustration, that I was unable to move on. I have every right to be angry and mad at the way some things went, but I have no reason to let those things or people stop me from living or feeling that I belong or that I don’t deserve to be loved or cared for or cared about.
Happy Mother’s Day!
I never got to give you a Mother’s Day gift with my own money. I’m sure that I made a card or something arts and craft-ish in school but I’ve never been able to give you a physical Mother’s Day gift that was from your son being sound, mind, and body, your son. Being proud to be YOUR SON. I was just a kid and there’s been no tradition or ritual that was bestowed in your honor or memory after you died by anyone that was consistent or communicated. Stuff like that made me feel like they all just forgot about you. Or that they never cared and in that I became angry and distant.
So today I’m writing this letter and honoring you with my wholehearted faith that I have discovered a truth that will help in navigating me to “move on”. You did a phenomenal job raising three wonderful children. And I belong to them. They belong to me. We belong to you. I belong to my son, your grandson, and he belongs to me. He belongs to my sister and brother, they belong to him.
I know that people cared. They were just as hurt as we were, as I was, and they dealt with it the way they knew or “didn’t know how” to. Just like I did, or didn’t. But today they are remembering and honoring you just as well. On behalf of them all, I say I love you. On behalf of your children, I say I love you. On behalf of everyone, I say I love you, and we miss you.
My mother would expect me to get up, move on, and keep going. My mother would expect me to succeed because my mother taught me that success is always possible. My mother would accept no excuses. She’d accept examples. There is nothing like a mothers love and to be void or removed from it can devastate and destroy an individual. That love is necessary. That care is necessary. That nurture is necessary. Whether the mother is natural, surrogate, or adopted. A mother’s love is a privilege that guarantees certain rights and realizations will be.
To every mother, I salute you. For every woman, because of the innate capacity to hold the qualities and characteristics of motherhood, I salute you! To those who protect, guard, and guide our well-beings into the shape and form that creates identity and defines us through the idea of what and who we are, and to become, I salute you. To the unsung heroes that save lives and heal wounds and fix damaged souls, all the while nursing and doctoring bruised egos and crippled pride with the bandages of a mother’s tender kiss or touch, I salute you! To the cooks, cleaners, workers, menders, providers, builders, and intercessors, all the while only being recognized as Mom, I salute you! To the friend, confidant, buddy, mentor, minister, advisor, counselor, and peacekeeper, that only gets called, Mom, I salute you! To the protectors and the motivators, the inspirers, the angels and the backbones, the coaches and the cheerleaders, who do it all, but only get the title of Mom, I salute you.
And Thank You!
Thank you for being consistent and dedicated. Thank you for being honest and authentic. Thank you for being real! Thank you for being a lifesaver, and a world-giver, and a way-maker. Thank you for providing the shade but willing to stand in the shadows. Thank you for love, unconditional, radical, persistent, faithful, understanding, and plain. Thank you for compassion and grace and mercy and forgiveness. Thank you for support! Thank you for instruction and guidance and management. Thank you for friendship. Thank you for dependability. Thank you for substance.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Because you don’t get nearly the appreciation, recognition, or acknowledgement, that you deserve. Because you’re taken for granted. Because you’re underpaid, overworked, and often not given the breaks or rests that you desire to catch your breath. But you keep running, unabated, relentlessly, to give and to do for and to love. Because you don’t have a choice when you’ve made that your choice.
Mom, I miss you.
©2014 Cornelious “See” Flowers
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