Black Hole Halo


My birthday this year is bittersweet. I am 36. My mom was 36 when she was diagnosed with cancer. After three years of battling it, from 4th grade to 7th grade for me, she died. She had just turned 39. I wrote this as I processed once again about this loss and its effect on me. I know that unless you've experienced this kind of loss at an early age, you may not understand what it is like. Maybe this will help you understand a bit of what it is like. At least what it is like for me.

I look at the world through the tint of loss.

Loss that has damaged me, informed me, shaped me.

I may be happy and enjoying myself with friends, but loss lurks, my shadow. It never lets me forget my orphanism. There is a piece of me that continually feels lost, afraid, panicked, saying:

where is she?

where is home?

where is safety?

where is the one who loved me best?

My decisions are informed by my memories of what she liked, hated, was annoyed by, and celebrated.

I stand on the foundation of my mother, and am enveloped always in the cloud of her loss too early, when I was yet unformed, when I needed her, through years of missing her attention, her attentiveness, her smile and color and brilliance, the way she ate mangoes in the sunshine and ran her hands through my hair. (oh, her hands)

How do I explain this to others without sounding crazy?
What I say here doesn't talk of all the hurt & pain & horror she caused me. I am writing today about her emblematic role as Mother, as source, as life-giver, as door-opener, as nurturer, as encourager, as permanently present, unshakably tied to me.

I lost my sense of home when she died, the little sense of it I had.

The sense that clung to the two houses of my memory -- our dear Dad-built house on Blackdairy Road & the happily yellow 2-story we lived in when I got chicken pox. I only lived in each house for a short time. Otherwise, we lived in temporary shelters that never felt like home.
Somehow, though, these houses gave me a sense of home, of sturdiness, of security, of family, of togetherness, of connection.

The yellow house itself seems to me to rise up & put its arms around me & around the family & bless us with its sturdy roof & walls & floor & fence & trees. A talisman against the evil spirits that took over my mother like the ones that tormented Saul. The house speaks of safety & peace. It lived directly opposite the school I went to. I came home every day for lunches of soup & sandwiches with mom and I had a backyard with a swing to play & daydream in.

I ask myself:

Will I feel less lost when & if I one day own a house & put down deep roots & make it mine all over & thoroughly?

Will I feel less bereft when & if I marry & finally feel that someone else & I have a life-long connection of support & commitment & encouragement & thriving?

As one guy friend said so long ago,
'most of your problems would be solved by a long-term committed relationship.'

So right.
My mom was my first love relationship.
There is a part of my psyche that knows she should be around for the highlights of life, for milestone birthdays, for PMS, & so much more. But she slipped off to the country that I can't travel to until death or Jesus' return. And that deep soul loss resounds in my voice whether I'm talking out loud or just talking in my head. That loss colors every sight I see. That loss scents & texturizes my world.

My spirit - that child within - still sobs & is looking for her mommy.

The grown woman is still somber & looking for home.


Anna June 15, 2009 at 4:18 PM  

Hi Tina!! So fun that you have a blog now - I've got one, too, and I try to keep it updated...

Anyhow, I really appreciate this post - thanks for sharing.

Tina B June 15, 2009 at 4:47 PM  

What is your blog address? I'll keep up with you :)

michele June 18, 2009 at 1:30 PM  

good post.

Anonymous August 8, 2009 at 12:31 AM  

Thanks for sharing your heart. There's so much there, and it is so eloquently written. It makes me ponder on so many levels, on the level of loosing my mother, on the level of fearing the same fate for my children. I love how deeply you feel and how honestly you convey it. Praying for you sister.

Tina B August 8, 2009 at 1:19 AM  

Hi, Martha, Thanks for your message. I so appreciate hearing from you. I'm glad it was good to read for you. It's funny; I've been dreaming about my mom a lot lately. But I think the dreams are often of me confronting her and showing her that I've grown up and I'm not just a kid anymore. I hope that means that I am being more responsible for my own life and not just being a doormat for other people, and am learning to be more forceful when I need to be. I think this is especially something I've struggled with in the past in work situations.

Did I tell you how much I am honored to see how you and David are dealing with your situation with the kids? I can't believe the difference in your ways of thoughtful parenting, combined with an awesome Christian community, in loving on the kids during this time. It's so encouraging for me to see that! You are amazing, Martha.

Hats Make Me Happy

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An Easter Hat and Me

Step into my inner world.

Sometimes, I hesitate to share thoughts that flit and emotions that surge and wane. Yet I so value when my friends share these insights with me. I get to know them in a special way.

So I invite you to get to know me - or continue knowing me - through this space of exploration.

I promise to reveal some of the joys, fears, observations, profundity, and ironies of life that come to mind day by day.

Don't forget to share with me your own inner sphere!

"To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting." - e.e. cummings