The period from mid-March through mid-April is usually very difficult for me. Twenty-eight years ago, my mother died on April 2 – six days before her birthday and twelve days after her wedding anniversary. It was the kind of death when well meaning people say things like “At least she’s not suffering.” She had mitral valve prolapse, and most of my life was spent waiting for her to die.
Trying to ignore the anniversary of her death, and just celebrate her birthday was how I’ve tried to deal with my grief. It never worked. So this year I tried something different. Using Facebook, I started on April 2 and posted one picture every day that represented a different aspect of my mother’s life. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I used just a few words to identify what the picture represented to me.
The first day, I was incredibly sad as memories came rushing back spurred by pictures I hadn’t looked at in years. Then something rather disconcerting happened, I started to question my good memories. My parents did the best they could, and it oftentimes fell short of ideal (I don’t think any of us are ever the perfect parent). Over the years, I think I’ve edited my memories to suit my emotional/psychological needs. Did I embellish the good times, or even embellish the bad times? Is this human nature? Do we all edit our memories?
At the end of this experiment, I’ve changed my focus to see her as whole person – not just as my mother. She was intrinsically a decent human being, very talented, and strong in her convictions. I hope that when my daughters look back on my life, they will be able to understand the difficulties I had and remember that on most days I tried to be the best person I could be. That’s what my mother did, and that’s how I choose to remember her.