“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ― William Shakespeare, Macbeth
My mother passed away on June 19 after a shockingly short battle with Alzheimer’s. I started noticing memory problems maybe 12 months ago? But they were minor. A few stories told more than once during a weekend. Then decline on fast forward. And here we are.
There have been a lot of traumatic things about the last six years. If you’ve been following along, I think I am living in traumatic. Surprise! Your daughter has Down syndrome. Surprise! You’re getting a divorce. Surprise! Your mom is dying.
But the most traumatic thing was writing my mom’s obituary.
I’m the writer, right? Heck, I write and edit bios for a living. It should have been easy.
And then I boiled her life down to four paragraphs. Four. Her entire life.
Because how do you describe someone who shaped your entire existence? Who sometimes when you don’t expect it, you find yourself mimicking. The person who comforted you and loved you unconditionally. How do you describe that person? The person who saw me at my worst and most vulnerable and endured my hurt and anger at times and still kept coming back.
Who kept telling me I was still loveable even when I didn’t believe it.
Four paragraphs? I could write a novel about her. A novel about being content with who you are and where you are. About blooming where you’re planted. About being happy to sit with a book and not feel constant dissatisfaction. About finding your passion in a classroom surrounded by 6 year olds.
About loving your people.
I hated having to do it. To take a life and remove the nuances and happiness and even the broken parts, and replace them with college graduations and careers.
And I thought about my own obituary. When someone has to write it, will they boil it down to my “accomplishments?” And what will those be? I graduated from college?
Because what I want it to say is that I made mistakes. So many mistakes, but I learned from them. That my children taught me that imperfect beats perfect every time. That I survived a broken, shattered heart. That maybe after that broken heart, I was able to forgive.
That even a broken life is a life well lived.
My dad, the kids, and I are moving forward as best we can, caring for each other and remembering the good parts and the broken parts too. Until we meet again.