I cried on my lunch break today.
I was eating a grapefruit, carefully extracting each segment and then sucking out as much juice and pulp as possible, and listening to a 'This American Life' podcast from a few years ago. The stories on this episode were about parents trying to impart wisdom on their children and how best to get that child to remember. The first story was about a young woman who's mother passed away from cancer. The mother knew she was going to die and she wondered how she could make her daughter remember her, how to make her know how much she loved her. So she decides to write her daughter letters, to be given by her husband on birthdays and her wedding day. These letters obviously were very emotional for the daughter. She feels love from her mother, she feels guilty that she has disappointed her mother for leaving the Mormon church, she feels inspired by the encouragement her mother writes.
In short, this could have been me and my mom.
And as the story came to an end I found myself crying over my grapefruit. Just recently, we had a scare that my mom's leukemia was taking a turn for the worse, and I ran through the mental preparations for death and funerals and life-after-mom. It's something I've done many many times. She's had leukemia for over half my life now. She was diagnosed when I was around twelve and intially they told her she had six to nine months to live. I don't remember how I felt then. Was I scared? Was I sad? Did I cry? I must have done all those things but they are so distant and I've felt those same things so many times, that those first feelings get lost in the wash. She's had many scares, many times when we were on the "last chance" and after living with that for seventeen years -- you start to wonder how many chances you have left. How many lunches you have together. How many phone calls remain. Looming death does strange things long term. You simultaneously hold your breath and move on. You take things for granted. You cherish stupid things. You wait.
But during all this waiting we've been doing, life has been happening. And I've grown into one of those cliched daughters that starts saying, "Mom really knew her shit." I realize now that every.single.thing my mom did for me or said to me, magically composed a Johanna over the years. My mother is one of those incredible people that loves so fiercely, it's completely encompassing. I have so many memories of her, vivid, vivid memories, that she will never die for me. And it's been a comfort to know that even when she passes on to whatever is after this, she was such a strong person that she left a massive imprint on my life, on my world. She is larger than life -- therefore, she is capable of surpassing death.
Love you, Mom.