An Ode To My Mother

I don’t talk about my mother, in fact even my closest friends don’t know about her. I lost my mother when I was 7 years old. She had been struggling with breast cancer for a while by then. I always avoided talking about her to friends or people because I always felt and quickly realised that no one else can understand the pain. It’s a very personal loss and there are no right words to express it and make someone understand what it might feel like. I also didn’t want to be looked at differently, it was normal to have two parents and I felt comfortable pretending to be part of that ‘normal’. Even at that young age, I never wanted anybody’s sympathy. I guess I didn’t want to talk about her also because it never felt right to do so. Every time I would try to mention her, the emotion and the feeling would get lost in trying to put them in words. Her memories, so few, were very special and I didn’t feel like sharing any of those with people who wouldn’t understand. When I did try to share my feeling of loss with someone, the response was so disappointing that it was better to not say anything. So, I ended up sharing about her with no one or maybe just a couple of people. And i have never been able to talk about her without bursting into tears.

My father remarried a year after my mom passed away. Probably to not make our step mom uncomfortable or maybe because it was uncomfortable for my father, we grew up without any photos of her around the house. I was 7 years old when she passed away and my sister was 4, and our memories of our mother were limited to our individual experiences with her. Over the years, she kind of vanished from our physical lives. There were no photos around us and no conversations about her. The only people I could talk to were my grandmothers and I didn’t see them a lot nor very often.

But she was always there; every Mother’s Day sucked, every hallmark’s greeting card on mothers brought tears and I was forever envious of my friends who talked about their mothers. I so yearned for that mother daughter relationship that I always wished to have a daughter one day to recreate that relationship in some way. In my head, everything that went wrong in my life was because I didn’t have her, every time I felt lonely, I cried to her that maybe if she were there I would have been stronger and braver and more emotionally secure.

Yoga in some way has made me understand and accept her death and absence from my life but it still feels unfair. I always felt that it was very unfortunate to have missed out on my mother’s love, that her love would have given me the sense of belonging or confidence in myself that I always felt I lacked. It’s just so wrong that I can’t find that kind of love anywhere else, that her absence can never be filled by another.

Never talking about her or acknowledging her existence in the presence of others just became a habit, but now that I am a mother myself, I realise that it probably wasn’t fair to her. If something happens to me, I would want my daughter to grow up talking about me, I would want her to carry me with her in some way. So now, 27 years after her passing, I’m finally ready to talk about my mother. If there was anyway that I could have sent my message to her, this is what I would have said to her,

I have missed you everyday of my life and as I grow older, I miss you even more. I had thought that I would get over your loss but I’ve come to realise that there is no stage of life where I don’t need my mother. I’ve missed you and continue to do so, in every important event of my life. You continue to live through my sister and I and now also through my daughter. She even carries your name as her middle name. The biggest compliment that I ever craved for is how alike you and I look and I keep looking for that compliment even now. All I have ever wanted to be in life is more like you. I cook because you were a great cook, the way you treated people is what inspires kindness in me and every year as I grow older than you ever got to be, I only hope that I’m becoming more and more like you. No one has been able to take your place and there will always be an emptiness in my being where you should have been. You are not forgotten and your legacy is not lost in any way!

With her dad and cousins, much before the era of digital photographs

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