“Perhaps it is at best difficult, at worst, impossible for children and parents to be adults together. But I would love to know that.”
~Anna Quindlen, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Curious~
I’ve been working my way into Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters, like it’s part of my Master’s thesis or some other rite of passage.
Maybe it is.
I have to concede–it won’t be a quick read nor will it won’t be an easy read.
For sure–it will be an emotional read.
My heart tells me there are other women out there in need of the validation I’m finding in this book after just the first few pages. Along with me, they need to know they’re not alone in the quest in coming to terms with their past.
I’ve started this book so many times before.
It was easy to see where I’d stopped in the past. I just needed to look for the spot where all the yellow highlighting stopped.
My goal yesterday was to get to that spot–I almost got there.
The surprising part was what caught my attention now I’m older compared to what I’d highlighted years ago. Yes–it was years ago.
Yesterday different passages caught my eye and held my attention. Because I’ve had more life experiences that color my perception, what I’d highlighted before seemed insignificant to me while other words jumped off the page.
The first few pages of the book contained letters written to the author, Hope Edelman. Each letter tells a personal story about the loss of that woman’s mother. These letters held different message for me and each seemed to gently encouraging me onward.
Some of the feelings that resonated with me:
- They thought that they would die at the same age as their mother.
- No one talked about their mother after she died. This lack of communication made them minimize their own memories of their mom and the pain they felt in the loss of her.
- They never had the chance to know their mother as an adult. They never were able to relate to her on an adult level.
- Many felt guilt for carrying around their grief for so many years.
- Many felt they had no peers to talk to about their feelings and experiences at the time of their mother’s death.
- Living a life time of grieving made them strong because they had to be strong. Their mother was not there to help them.
- Ultimately, the loss of their mother resulted in a general feeling of hopelessness and chronic melancholy they carried with them throughout their lives.
I didn’t make it far but I did make it through the first few pages comprehending what I’d read. I’d certainly cried but I was functional.
I also knew in order to continue moving forward, I’d need to give my heart and soul a rest. I closed the book, put my notes down, and allowed my brain time to process what I’d read.
Those of you who have walked this path understand. Those of you who have not–will–eventually.
I’d heard Timothy Shriver talk about how the Kennedy family never talked about the tragedies that’d struck his family. In the Kennedy family it was an unspoken understanding you just moved on.
Hearing that made me feel okay–more normal–kinda.
Honestly, didn’t we Irish Catholics think the Kennedys were the Gold Standard for what was normal and acceptable? Wasn’t this an example of the ultimate “What will the neighbors think?” type reaction?
It was okay I’d all buried my questions along my feelings and moved uneasily on.
I think in the back of my mind the questions and the unease never went away. They’d been biding their time, waiting for me to grow strong enough to stay on course learn what I needed to learn in order to move on–peacefully and in grace.
“In that first year we continued on with the routines of schoolwork, vacations, and bimonthly haircuts as if a central family member were so dispensable that her absence required only minor reshuffling of household chores. Anger, guilt, sadness, grief–all emotions were suppressed, shooting out like brief bullets only when we couldn’t contain them anymore.” ~ Hope Edelman, Motherless Daughters~