She’s gone

Those two words still don’t feel like reality. My mom Kathleen passed away almost precisely 48 hours ago. In the time since I have broken down sobbing dozens of times. And yet I read those two words and I still can’t quite grasp what they mean.

I know the rawness of her loss will linger for a while yet. There will be times when I can’t hold in my grief and I will stop in my tracks and allow my sadness to overwhelm me for a moment. I know that there are going to be moments of sadness that I can’t yet predict, as I go forward in my life and realize all the little things about her that I took for granted. I’ve begun to have some of those. I recently began work on a book. As I started it, before my mom died, I thought how much I was looking forward to reading her passages as I progressed with my writing. As much as I can continue my writing it in her honor, I know I will catch myself looking forward to reading to her in the future tense, to seeing her smile, hearing her laugh, feeling the love of writing that she shared with me.

I know that there will be times in years to come that I will miss her unbearably, in ways that I can’t begin to predict in the present rawness. A wound hurts differently than a scar.

I am more acutely aware than ever how my mom shaped who I am today. Once upon a time, her blog was something I occasionally read with a smile, a space that I let her have to herself to reminisce and reflect on her remarkable life. Now it is precious to me. It is the closest visible link I have to her love of writing and mine. I read her stories here and realize how much I owe to her, as a writer, and most of all, as a person.

My mom loved people and loved their stories. In the aftermath of her death, I have been stunned by the massive outpouring of support and love from so many people around the world. The morning after she died, I was awoken by a bombardment of texts and Facebook messages. Cataloguing every tribute to her, many from people I didn’t know personally, has been a nearly full-time effort. I’m not surprised, of course. I was aware that she kept regular correspondence with old friends, many of whom she joyfully reconnected with on the internet. The stunned feeling stems from the scope of it. I knew she was a remarkable woman. I didn’t realize just how many people knew that as well as I did.

She’s gone. I know that. She lives on in many ways. I think everyone who knew her can agree with that statement no matter what their belief system. As a Catholic, I believe her spirit lives on in a literal sense. As her son, I burn with a need to carry on her legacy of loving people and telling stories. She, herself, blazed a path that traveled the world and connected deeply with more people than I can comprehend. No matter your take on the aftermath of death, if you knew my mom, she lives on with you in some fashion. I can’t believe my mom is gone. Part of that is grief. But part of that is also the knowledge that she lived too fully to ever really leave.

mamagraduation   My mom Kathleen, my dad David, and me at my grad school graduation

mamababyJM                                                                                                                           My mom and me when I was newborn. I had life-threatening health issues as a baby; the joy on her face here reflects that I had just been given an all-clear and could soon go home. She was finishing college at the time and took me with her to her classes. She got me started on my love of learning, reading, and writing at an early age.

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About johnmichaelmaximilian

Freelance writer from New Bedford, Massachusetts. Movies are my favorite thing.

6 responses to “She’s gone”

  1. Katy says :

    This is so beautiful, JM. I love your mom, I love your dad, your siblings, and I love you. Keep telling stories.

  2. Jordan Dodd says :

    Beautifully written mate, that is so lucky that you have her blog. My mother also got me into writing, I can’t imagine what you must be feeling like

  3. Cassie says :

    I don’t know you or your family intimately. I’m No Face guessing at what Sen needs. I could offer gold and bath tokens but I don’t think that’s what is needed here. Reading about your mother, I think she would have inspired Miyazaki. She would have been his muse for Nausicaa, his model for Mononoke. Strong, family oriented, and just a bit different from the norm. I think your mother would have made an admirable Miyazaki creation. He didn’t need to create her though, she was a real life inspiration. She has left behind her own legacies of slightly askew heroines. Howl, with his moving castle of words, haunted but powerful and good. Your sister Maria, a modern Haru, strong, kind, modest and never at the mercy of being told what to do. Miyazaki created the characters but your mother brought them to fruition. Keep writing. You and your sister inspire me with how important mothers are.

  4. Jay says :

    I’m so sorry. She seems a remarkable lady. It’s a loss that can’t quite be put into words, nor can the condolences I want to extend. I’m thinking of you. Big hugs.

  5. Nicole McLernon Eckerson says :

    This is a precious tribute to a wonderful lady. Still thinking of you and will continue praying for you. Much love!

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