Today is my mother’s birthday. I will not be picking up my phone to text or call her, and I would have forgotten it entirely if it weren’t for the fact that two years ago, I put her birthday in my iPhone as a yearly calendar reminder. I should delete the reminder, but I can’t seem to bring myself to do so.
This week I started reading Sherman Alexie’s memoir about his mother, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. It is a gut-wrenching, honest, sometimes dishonest, always approachable look into his relationship with his mother who died of cancer in 2015.
Lately, I’ve been compelled to think about my mother more than I have the entirety of 2017. Last week, I attended a benefit for my friend Paul, who died of cancer in September. Paul had colorectal cancer, the same kind my mother overcame in 2015 (the year Alexie’s mother died). This is the same cancer my friend Tim lost his mother to, and that he was diagnosed with in his early thirties (he survived, thank god). The same cancer I thought I had this past spring, and probably will get later in life.
All of these correlations make it understandable, then, as to why I have been thinking more about my mother lately. We stopped speaking a year ago this past Labor Day weekend. She is the one who made the decision, though I’m sure she would deny this if you asked her. Nonetheless, I am glad this was the outcome. Cutting off contact with her has been good for my mental and emotional health, for the most part.
Much like Alexie’s relationship with his mother, my mom and I were complicated. I could fill an entire book with our relationship, and someday I probably will. Suffice to say, I am currently feeling the weight and enormity of what it means to willingly and consciously let go of my mother at a time when she very well could be dying.
A List of Times I Wish I Could Have Called My Mother In No Particular Order:
- When I found out Paul was sick with colon cancer.
- When we got a huge new client and our business started to take off.
- When we hired our first employee.
- When my depression was eating me alive.
- When we found a house to move into.
- When we realized we couldn’t have our cat in our new house.
- When I was getting my first colonoscopy.
- When the doctor found polyps and cysts in a pelvic ultrasound.
- When we made our new house into a home.
- When Donald Trump won (to berate her).
- When we were dealing with a client who wouldn’t pay us.
- When our foster son’s dad went off his meds and accused us of stealing (we weren’t).
- When Paul died.
- When we received notice of an inheritance that will allow us to buy a house someday.
My anxiety lately is pretty constant. I am feeling uprooted and disconnected in many ways. Paul’s death was a reminder that many of our once steadfast relationships are fractured. My school feels as though it is coming apart at the seams, and I am fairly certain this year will be my last there. And we all know how well I deal with change. One of our closest friends is going through incredible marital turmoil. I am falling in love with a house that I cannot love fully. I am fully ensconced in the ever-widening gyre, and things are falling apart.
So taking on something that significantly placed me out of my comfort zone was not an option this week. What did I do? I ate at D. Lish’s Hamburgers for the very first time. D. Lish’s is another local Spokane staple that’s been around for much longer than I have. I don’t know why I’ve never gone to D. Lish’s–it’s certainly not because I’m above fast food. And I do love a local burger joint.
Instead of making our beef curry that came in our weekly food box (yes, we’re one of those people), we drove up Division to have some good old-fashioned burgers and fries.
Looks good, right? It certainly was. 10/10. Would do again.
Then we came home to the house-I’m-falling-in-love-with-but-shouldn’t-because-that’s-a-terrible-idea, and Abbie built our first fire in the new home. We watched some BBC cooking shows (they’re so relaxing!), and we didn’t drink a drop of alcohol for the first Saturday night in what might be years.
I didn’t tackle a bear, or climb a mountain, or publish my first novel, but I got out of bed, and I ate a goddamn hamburger.