Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Making Room

The gift of men, Tolkien's immortal elves call it: death. 

The one thing that can make people finally clean out the utility drawer, give away an impossible accumulation of sewing materials, and get rid of the 1967 - 1973 Scientific American magazines. 

The thing that finally breaks all wedding vows. The thing that clears the way for creatures that are young, clean-limbed, and fresh to imagine (in their turn) that they will always be so. The thing that makes room.

My mother died last winter. Ours was a relationship of deep mutual disappointment and bright superficial cheer: we managed to wound each other and fail each other remarkably often, for people who saw each other so little. The one thing we each wanted of the other was the one thing we could not give: a respectful understanding. 

No parent-child relationship is ever actually over, I suppose, but the death of one party marks it, like a visa stamp on a passport.

I am free to travel, now. I'm sorry. I'll carry my failure forever: but it will be localized now: a dead zone in an otherwise living sea.

And maybe I will even clear out a few boxes and throw a few things away, ahead of time. She would approve of that.


Pascale Parinda said...


Lucy said...

I understand every part of this, I think, even down to the sewing materials.

My mum died somewhat over twenty years ago, a year or so before I came to live in France. The failure sits there, as you say, a dead zone, not redeemed or ameliorated, just a fact. Mostly I've forgiven her hers, I think, my own is harder.

I don't think about it all the time. I try to allow myself to remember and appreciate the (many) good bits too, without allowing the failure to colour and mock them too much.

Sabine said...

Every time I get a glimpse of what others have gone through/are going through with the long drawn out dilemma of a parent's legacy, the fall out and the guilt and the heavy sense of duty, I feel lighter.

Thank you.

tatz said...

xo --

Ann Marcus said...

I read this and my life was suddenly caught in my throat...they the tears welled much sudden could have, should have rushing in that I nearly lost my breath. And then what? Disappointment gives way to longing and then to an embrace of the odd realization that my experience is not all that unique...both comforting and sad. Thank you for the catharsis...