The Loss of a Super Hero
(Los Angeles, CA)
It's been one year seven months and ten days since my Super Hero, my Mother, passed. She was amazing. Up to the end. She slipped away in her sleep-- kidneys gave out after being on dialysis for three months. She was only 69 and I was 39 when she left us and I have never been more devastated. Tragically, I was supposed to be her kidney donor, and sensing her growing frailty I wanted to push the transplant along, but we never got the chance. Deep down, I suspect that my mother didn’t want to put me through the operation. Deep down, I suspect she felt her own mortality and was prepared to die.
Her passing occurred while I attending grad school at UCLA. I took a whole two weeks off to be with my family in Texas before I returned to California to finish my studies. Probably not the wisest choice, but it gave me a sense of normalcy, purpose and belonging. In hindsight, I should have taken a leave of absence. I was not prepared for the amount of psychic energy my grief would occupy, and still does. I graduated this past June. I could not believe she wasn’t there. My mother. Keeper of my milestones—GONE. She was my biggest cheerleader. My biggest defender. My super power.
I was definitely suicidal the first year. Not seriously. I never took pills or tried to slice my wrists, but I did fantasize about death, but only to cut the pain. I still can’t believe the profundity of it. The pain. How it drowns you and tries to pull you down. You can’t fight the currents of grief, and the harder you try to swim against it, the harder it works to pull you down.
At month 8, last year, I knew I was in trouble. You see, I was left with my stepfather, he is not the easiest man to get along with, in fact, I found a note written by my mother left behind one of her photos indicating how her marriage to him was a prison. He is ten years older than my mother and he should have died many times over, after serving the Special Forces in Vietnam, being a POW, having survived a helicopter crash that left him in a body cast for nine months, a heart attack. I can’t help but think it should have been him not her. I can’t help it, but it’s true.
He was in bed with my mother when she passed. He woke up to find her splayed out across the bed, with her arm stretched out in front of her, as if she were trying to wake him up— he did finally, by the time rigor mortis set in— I think it takes four hours for this to occur. I’ve been angry at him for not waking up. For not taking her to the hospital two days before, when she got in a car wreck after confusing the accelerator for the brake, AFTER trying to drive home from dialysis. Something you should never do. But someone had to wait for the workers to finish installing the hardwood floors my mom wanted so much. My mom was a Super Hero, but even Super Heroes become weak.
Meanwhile, I’m away at UCLA pursuing my dream study and my brother is too busy placating his wife, who never understood the devotion we had to my mother and often creating a ripple between him and us. This wreck was a sign that something was wrong— I can’t help but wonder if she had gone to the hospital, MAYBE she would be alive.
Currently, I find myself in a very apathetic state. I don’t think I am clinically depressed, believe me, after the anniversary of her death hit, I tried to get on meds, but the doctors didn’t let me. They said what I was experiencing was grief, and the only way to handle it was by going through it. But, I’m wondering if the state I’m in now will be permanent. I don’t want to deal with people. I don’t want to hang out with my friends. I only want to stay home and catch up on all the episodes of “Supernatural” while lying in bed.
I’m hoping this is only a phase. I am hoping I will snap out of it and somehow recapture my drive. Somehow recapture my zest for life. Graduation was in June, and looking back I realize I gave myself little time to process her death and what her loss would really feel like. As I sit in it, I realize the huge part of me, the ambitious part of me, is gone. I realize, just how much of my identity was wrapped up in my mother. I’m not married and don’t have kids, this could also be apart of it and it was only in the last five years of our relationship that I can say we became best friends. When I finally saw her as a human being, just like me, but she was still my Super Hero and now she’s gone. Gone.
I’m currently in a relationship with a married man. The kid just left to college and he claims that once he sorts out his finances he will get a divorce so we can be in our relationship properly. I’ve never done this before. Have an affair. But I know grief makes you act stupidly for a while, and, yes, I know this is wrong and my mother would disapprove, but I’m no Super Hero.
My therapist tells me, I am in a relationship with this man, because he has become my anchor, my rock. She’s right. There is no one else. My stepfather has PTSD and has always been emotionally detached. My brother is emotionally unreachable, but at least he’s married and has some support there, but I’m all alone. This is not an excuse. I try to break up with him every Monday, because I know I deserve better, and I feel guilty, but somehow, I can’t let go of him— yet. He spends five nights a week with me, holds me. Let’s me cry. Hears me. I’ve known him for ten years and he has always been a friend, but we crossed a line.
For now, I feel all I can do is take my life one step at a time. I hope one day soon, I will find my drive. Find energy. Find reason, motivation, and the joy to live my life. Feel the sun on my face. But as I lie in the comfort of my bed, as I watch TV and write this— I realize that I’m no Super Hero. That was my mom.