I haven’t blogged anything on this page yet, though I’ve had it blank and ready for almost a year. Today, March 2nd, is the anniversary of Mam’s death. She died 28 years ago. 28 years is a lifetime for some, a short-life, but a life nonetheless. And for me, being only a child of barely 11 when she died it seems like a lifetime to me. So today is a good day to begin this blog. Though it’s hard to know what to say and where to begin. I’ve said so much in my memoir, A Lovely Woman, which I’ve almost finished editing. And I post to my Facebook Author’s page comments on life without my mother. I share poignant quotes and photos while discussing the healing process of writing this book.
I’ve heard women say that they don’t like using the word ‘anniversary’ when it comes to death. They don’t feel like it’s an ‘anniversary’ which has connotations of something good and happy, something to be celebrated. I understand this but haven’t come up with any better term for the day.
Since leaving Ireland several years ago I haven’t marked the anniversary in any particular way apart from thinking of Mam from the moment I wake up on the morning of her anniversary, until the moment before I drop off to sleep. I talk to my dad on the phone though the conversation is a general one. He goes to a mass that he has booked for Mam and tells me how the priest mentioned her name a few times during prayers. It’s a nice ritual and a good way to have her remembered. The important thing is that she is remembered.
I’ve just finished reading the memoir The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke. I can identify with her grief in several ways, and she is an exquisite writer. One passage of hers that really struck me is as follows ‘It is human to want our friends and family to recover from pain, to look for a silver lining – or so I reminded myself. But when people stop mentioning the dead person’s name to you, the silence can seem worse than the pain of hearing those familiar, beloved syllables. Henry James, after the death of his sister, Alice, and his friend James Russell Lowell, wrote in his journal: “The waves sweep dreadfully over the dead-they drop out and their names are unuttered.”
On the anniversary of Mam’s death, even after 28 years of living without her, I want her to be remembered. I don’t have a special ritual that I do on this day like an activity or a special meal that I like to cook, and I live too far away to be able to visit her grave. A close friend who knew Mam as a child contacted me late last night. It was morning in Ireland. This friend sent me a photo of the candle she is burning for Mam today in her home. Hearing this meant a lot to me. Knowing that Mam is being thought about. Knowing that she hasn’t been forgotten. Allowing for some dialogue.
Writing my book, A Lovely Woman, has been extremely healing for me. And it has brought Mam back into the conversation, when often times it was very difficult to bring her up. Even though she was a private woman I believe that she is okay with my writing this story; she may even like the fact that I’m writing it. So on this, her 28th anniversary, I’m starting this blog page. This is a new skill I’ll need to learn; blogging doesn’t come as naturally to me as journal writing and memoir writing. But I’ll get there and I hope that some of you will join me on the journey.
“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me. ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”