In the midst of the typical holiday cheer and excitement, at a time when everyone surrounding me is lit up with positive vibes and kindness, I find myself riding a roller coaster of peaking and plummeting emotion; teetering from positive, heart-warming memories one moment to tear-induced recollections of times no longer within my grasp, all in the blink of an eye.
December 23rd will forever be a particularly difficult, bittersweet day for me. My mother, who as you know passed in August of 2015 if you’ve read my book or blog, was born this day.
I spent a considerable amount of time going over this post in my head leading up to now, internally writing and re-writing it until I felt it was perfect. You know what’s funny, though? The sudden realization after I opening my browser that she would laugh and tell me I’m being absurd for stressing over it. Over her. After all, she knew exactly how much I cared for and appreciated her, and I knew the very same thing about her.
So rather than write about times together I miss and the opportunities I regret not taking while she was still with me, I’ll instead try my best to focus on the simple, happy things.
I’m absolutely convinced that my mother was without a doubt the most genuine, kind person I’ll ever know. Her saintly ability to always see the good in people, no matter their words or actions, still astonishes me when I think about it. I envy the thought-process that she embodied, something of which I regret to say I’ll likely never obtain. She was the simplest, yet deeply complex thinker – and her commitment to love and acceptance was relentlessly unwavering. I’m extremely proud to say with confidence that anyone who knew her knows exactly the kind of behavior I refer to. She was a beloved individual, to her family and everyone else who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Yet despite her outwardly simple demeanor and whimsical presence, Mom was also someone who maintained ferocious conviction in regard to her inward thought process. It’s actually a bit funny when I think of it, because the majority of people I knew growing up always told me they thought my Dad was smart. In retrospect, though, she was the one who truly had the gift of critical thought and analysis. Sure, Dad was some sort of confusing Applied Math professor, but so what? Mom had passion, she had depth, and she had character. Things which, incidentally, I would take over book smarts any day. Personally, I have more respect for those who maintain rock solid commitment to deeply-rooted moral philosophies over someone who can win at a game of Trivial Pursuit. After all, true intellect in my opinion is being able to control your thoughts and emotions, sticking to your morals in the face of anything, good or bad.
So yes, in lieu of the sorrow-laden post that my mind had written, I think its best to follow the example she set for me and allow my thoughts to settle on the smiles we had, not the frowns I’ve so frequently experienced. Because that’s what she would want – and I want nothing more than to emulate her joyous passion and thankfulness for life.
On that note, as a random tidbit – something Mom and I enjoyed immensely was playing video games. I, of course, grew up during the dawning age of the industry, having a childhood that can basically be described as school, baseball, and a progression of the newest game consoles. Mom, however (and I’m laughing as I write this), was absolutely obsessed with the 8-bit Nintendo’s original Legend of Zelda. One of my fondest memories is watching her play it time after time after time, smiling and talking trash to the bad guys all the way. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, but I honestly think she beat it a thousand times. I kid you not. After all, what’s a better pastime to share with your kids than a little casual gaming?
Incidentally, you might have been wondering why I chose to include a song from Bioshock Infinite at the beginning of this. While my previous paragraph probably gives some insight, the song carries a particular uniqueness; something I thought appropriate to include. It was the last song played at her funeral. She was watching me while I played it for the first time, walking into that beautifully designed fictional environment as the mind-numbingly pretty song played overhead. I knew she would approve of me selecting it for the procession’s conclusion because of the story behind it. If you give it a listen, which I strongly recommend you do, I trust you’ll recognize the beauty and sheer passion behind the lyrics. Choral hymns can be spine-tingling, indeed.
Yes, those are the things she loved more than anything else in the world. Spending time doing enjoyable things with us, her children. The woman quite literally lived for us and our happiness.
All that said, I would like to end this on something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life; and something I’ve mentioned previously. Now obviously the majority of us have parents who have a presence in the social media world – simple Facebook profiles, most commonly. I have to admit that I never paid much attention to it outside of the occasional post like, as probably not unlike most, I was admittedly too immersed in my own universe. After she passed, though, I visited her profile during a particularly painful day of missing her; and noticed something that genuinely made me happier than any individual memory I can recollect. As I’ve mentioned, there’s nothing I want more than to fulfill the life she envisioned for me; for her to be proud of me and the person I am. I never thought something as simple as reading the “Favorite Quotes” section on her profile could provide the validation for which I so desperately long. It might sound selfish to outwardly admit it, but I needed to know that she knew how much I appreciated her, and how much she inspired me. Her statement, which I’ve made the featured image of this post, did just that.
There are three, very simple quotes that my mother deemed important enough to spend time including on her profile. And yet as quick and concise as they are, nothing could more perfectly summarize the person my mother was and the priorities the drove her. This is taken verbatim from her profile:
“I love you.” – My children
“You’ve made me everything I am.” – Matthew
“I think every child is teachable.” – Unknown
I saw, in her very own words, she understood that she was my idol. And – more importantly – that we, her children, appreciated her. Seeing those few, simple words eased an enormous burden and uncertainty which plagued me for the longest time. She knew how I felt, and it meant enough to her to proudly display it on a public platform. It was an indescribable glimmer of elation during a devastating storm of melancholy; a saving grace which immensely helped keep my sinking ship of life afloat.
One last thing. Please, for your sake as much as theirs, make the people who motivate, inspire and love you aware of their impact. There’s nothing I can imagine which would instill a worse lifetime of regret than waiting until it was too late to tell your loved ones just that – that you love them.
Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas, Mom. And thank you so, so much for being such a shining luminescence in a world where darkness often prevails.
More than my words will ever convey, I love you.