I can’t tell you what my mother’s voice sounded like. I can’t tell you what her hugs, kisses, or affection felt like. I was too young to remember the love in the whispers that exhaled through her lungs. I don’t remember any of her bad habits, her slang, her corniness, or her perspectives. Everything that I know about her are composed of stories told to me repeatedly by family, and the various letters, pictures, and objects that were all hers. She is make-believe to me; an imaginary person given birth to in my thoughts. I also can’t tell you that any of this ever bothered me growing up.
I cringe every time I hear about a child’s parents being killed. I often say a prayer for the child and those that will care for that child. Any one that has heard my testimony of my parents deaths usually say/ask things like, “How did you get through all of that?” or “You’re so strong.”
Honestly; they’re “deaths” never really bothered me until I reached my 20s and was really able to comprehend how much different my life could have been. My grandparents had done such a good job of being “parents” that it wasn’t until my grandfather died when I was 23 that I really felt “alone” for the first time and truly understood that the main people who loved me (parents & grandparents) were now gone and there was no one else to place the “mom & dad” hat on.
For the last 15 years there hasn’t been one day I haven’t thought about my mother. I’ve imagined us talking, role-played conversations, and wondered what kind of advice she would have given me. I’ve considered seeing a physic to help me communicate with her on the other side (seriously), I’ve stared at her photos for hours, wondered what characteristics in the gene pool my children inherited from her, and “What ifed” myself to no end. All things I rarely did throughout my adolescence.
The point here? Well it’s about how we all deal with death, the unknown, and its longevity. Would my mother have raised me different my grandparents? Would I have still ended up being a writer and photographer? Would her and my father have stayed together? Does she think I’m being a good father? Would her and my wife get along? Why didn’t I die? Have I found my sense of purpose? Why did God spare me? Is she proud of me?
I understand that it’s impossible to answer these questions. I realize that I’m driving myself crazy looking for answers that can’t be found. But I also understand that these questions, my parents death – all make me - “Me.” I understand that most of my ambition, my drive, the way I turned hobbies to careers and goals to obsessions are all the result of those unanswered questions.
And to be honest; I’m still searching.