For the last twenty nine years of her life my mother was a sad woman. She never recovered from the loss of my father and her personality was impacted by her feelings of loss, anger and loneliness. As a result of so many years of her sadness, my recollections of what she was like are almost entirely formed by the last twenty nine years. I have trouble picturing what she was like before my father’s illness and death.
Until this week.
On Wednesday I went for my semiannual kidney stone check up. As I was driving back to my office my mind wandered back to when I was eighteen and first began to suffer from kidney stones. For a couple of years I was in and out of the hospital with kidney stone attacks. As I turned onto Mass Ave, I began to recall how distraught my mother was during those attacks. How every day I laid in pain was a day of pain for her. How she and my father visited me every day for hours in the hospital. How she would insist on going with me for follow up checkups and tests. It was as if she too was suffering from kidney stones.
It was refreshing to have a clearer view back to my mother before her long period of sadness; to get a glimpse of what she was like before her world was turned upside down.
It is strange how even after nine months of mourning – out of the blue – I find myself reminiscing in my own mind about my mother.
While saying kaddish provides a structure for the mourning process, what we make of it is up to each one of us. In my case it is helping me remember back to better days.