Don’t Join This Club

Seven months pregnant and sitting shiva, I was convinced that I had a monopoly on my suffering. More than my siblings as my mom and I lived nearby and I accompanied her to all of her doctor’s appointments. More than her boyfriend because he did not know her as long. More than any other girl who lost her mother because my mommy was special. I had loved her so much and depended on her so dearly and spoke to her so frequently, as if that would be enough to stave off cancer.

I recently read If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Reporter’s Notebook by Katherine Rosman and was amazed by the parallels down to the awful conclusion.

Having lost my mother has become such an identifying part of my identity. Perhaps because it is still sixteen months later the wound is still raw. Perhaps because it really is a big deal. I no longer feel the need to tell everyone I meet that I recently lost my mom but I do reveal it with frequency. If I had lost a limb, my left hand or even my thumb, the world would know to handle me with care. But barring that, I disclose my handicap.

At my college reunion last Spring I reconnected with a friend and shared the defining experience. We had both been extremely close to and influenced by our strong-minded mothers, a similarity we had bonded over at school. She kept shaking her head no and saying, “I couldn’t” as if thinking about potentially losing her mother would send her health into a tailspin. “Don’t you think I felt the same way?” Just as I am certain that all of my contemporaries shared the same ache in their stomaches upon losing their mothers.

I emailed Rosman while reading her book sharing my amazement at the similarities. We had the familiarity of camp friends reconnecting on Facebook, so many unknown details but this shared bond. I’ve found myself relating to people who’ve lost their mothers in ways I never imagined. It’s as if we are part of this semi-orphan club. We may be cool, but do not join. It’s much more fun on the other side.

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7 Responses to Don’t Join This Club

  1. kroliklinsey says:

    I’ve heard that term just recently – a club of people who have recently lost their mothers. I’m so sorry for membership 😦

  2. Katie Rosman says:

    Your comparison of losing your mom to losing a limb is so dead-on (pardon the word choice). It’s a wound people can’t see but it is gaping nonetheless.

    One of the biggest surprises to come with the publication of this book is the sheer number of women whose experiences were so similar to mine. We all suffered alone but maybe now we can heal together.

    I think of you often and hope you’re hanging in there.

  3. Cristie says:

    Exactly! I have friends from high school and we say the same thing. We weren’t terribly close in high school and quite frankly had lost all touch until I hear their mom was sick with cancer. I immediately reached out to them as if drawn my some cosmic force. We wrote a lot during her illness and when she died I was again compelled to “welcome” them to the club.Now it as if we are old dear friends because we “get” that part of each other. I love the line in the book by Doctor Voigt who says something like, you can’t know until you’ve been through it but losing a parent a part of you goes away. Like a missing limb, it may heal over but you’ll never be totally whole.

  4. Emily says:

    Losing my father to cancer was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. We are not alone when we lose a parent, we are not the first, but it feels so unique to us.

  5. Sharon Young says:

    You are very cool and you are right, your club is one I do not want to join. I take my now 88 year old mother on a cruise every year and this week I am taking her to the circus. I am not so much sure these trips and events are for her as much as they are for me.

  6. ekpaster says:

    I’m so sorry that you, like Katie Rosman, lost your mother far too young. My own mother had the same experience, having lost both her parents far too young, whihc she calls “the tragedy of her life” despite the fact that she also lost a pair of premature twins before I was born. It is so hard not to focus on the injustice of the situation.

  7. […] Helen P from I Want a Book Deal is motivated to make a call to her mother’s childhood friend and from Milf Alert says don’t join this club […]

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