Memory Lane has a lot of Potholes

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My husband has been on a photo kick lately. He has been digging up lots of old pictures and videos from when the kids were much younger. While many of the images have been wonderful to see, they have also stirred up emotions that I had mistakenly thought were buried.

The single recurring theme in every photo?… GFY autism.

The above photo was taken at my daughter’s first and last ballet recital. It was held on a stage at the local community college. We had third row seats. It should have been an incredible experience but thanks to (GFY)autism, what I remember most is the pain.

The pain my little boy felt in his ears from the loud music.

The pain he felt in his eyes from the flashing lights.

The pain he felt in his body from the show lasting nearly two hours beyond his bedtime.

The pain I felt in my heart because I had to abandon my coveted third row seat at my sweet girl’s ballet debut in favor of a seat in the last row of the theater to shield my baby boy from the sensory overload. I sat, rocking in the last row, with his ears squished between my chest and my arm while covering his eyes with my other arm to help him endure the seemingly endless torture.

Yes. I was selfish.
I refused to leave the theater.
And yes, I still have guilt about that but my daughter needed me there.

That was just the beginning of the endless internal mama battle of what’s right for one child is so NOT right for the other….

My daughter was beautiful. She was graceful. She was HILARIOUS! (At one point in another class’ performance, she darted diagonally across the stage to run to us in the audience. The entire audience “awwwwwwed”) It was pretty darn adorable. We had a bouquet of miniature pink roses waiting for her for after her performance. We had hoped to take her out for ice cream afterwards. We hope for a lot of things that just never seem to pan out thanks to (GFY)autism.

We SHOULD have been able to linger afterwards with her friends and join the celebration. We SHOULD have been able to stick around for the socializing and the photos. We didn’t realize at the time we were a group of five, not four. Our little tribe consisted of myself, my husband, my daughter, my son, and that invisible but ever present bastard (GFY)autism.

Some days, I really want to meet that effer in a back alley with a lead pipe.

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Not Quite Closure

Fourteen hours from now, my mother will have been dead for ten years exactly.

As I write this, I’m smack dab in the middle of a full on panic attack. And it sucks.

I had planned, for YEARS, to take her ashes to Atlantic City for a last hurrah and then sprinkle them in the Atlantic.

Why there?

Well, if you’ve read my page “Vicious Cycle” you’d know that my mom and I did not have a good relationship. We barely spoke without fighting, or snarling, or judging the other one very harshly. She was emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive and I hated her for that. Just because SHE had been abused, it doesn’t excuse her from what she did to me just because she claimed she “didn’t know any better”. I didn’t know any better and I’d sooner put myself through a wall before I’d lay a hand on my kids or say anything that would make them feel badly about themselves.

When she had cancer that was ravaging her body, I just wanted an apology. Some form of closure so I could just forgive her and let go.

I needed an apology that just never came.

Whatever.

She’s gone ten years now. I’ve moved on. Through parenting my own children the way I so desperately wanted to be parented, I’ve healed.

I’ve forgiven

I’ve never forgotten.

That’s why tomorrow was such an important day for me. One that I had looked forward to for so long.
You see, while the majority of our time together was rancid and toxic, every now and then we’d have a good moment. One that made us both smile and even laugh together.

We experienced such a day in between her second breast cancer and her lung cancer, the illness that ultimately did her in.

One day we went to Atlantic City together. We took the bus down with the senior citizens and sat in a comfortable silence. We played the slots, blackjack, and had an enormous buffet lunch. We walked the boardwalk arm in arm, slowly, talking like girlfriends, enjoying the warmth of the sun on our faces.

When we embarked on our bus journey home, we giggled that we could tell who won and who lost by the assorted complaints from the other passengers.

It was one of the happiest memories I have of my time as my mother’s daughter so I’m really sad that my plan to scatter her ashes tomorrow just isn’t going to work out. I had several medical procedures this week that left me feeling just too weak and miserable for a trip that long.

It will happen. Eventually. Just not tomorrow.

However… Today I give both of us a gift.

I forgive you, Mom. And I forgive myself for holding on to my bitterness towards you for our challenging relationship.

Today, I free us both from that misery and wish that you are finally at peace.

Below is a photo of another of the best memories I have with my mother. It was taken when she gave me away at my wedding.

Tomorrow I will wake up, blow a kiss towards the sky, and wish her a happy anniversary. Someone who lived such a tragic and painful life deserves that much.

I guess I do love you mom. And I probably always will.

Happy anniversary in Heaven. I hope you are finally proud of me.