Although it was not unexpected, when the news came it hit hard. My dad, my brothers, my sister and Florian--none of us could really imagine life without my mom's irreverent sense of humor, her unconditional support, her overwhelmingly generous love and her uninhibited affection.
So we told ourselves that she was doing well, and in some ways she was--right until the end.
Right up until the end, my mom embodied vibrant joy, intense love, and razor-sharp intelligence that made it easy to hold on to the hope that she would hold on.
My mom could bring out in me a feeling of wild, raucous joy blasting out in all directions.
I don't think I know anyone who is so completely, thoroughly loving, who lived so completely for the sake of giving. Maybe that is why she brought out in me a sensation of being thoroughly, joyously alive and a compulsion to sing, skip, and clap my hands.
I do believe that there is a current of joy running through the universe, and I think the love I felt with my Mom set me free to tap into it.
I think her extraordinary love for animals, for her family, for plants and her garden and kids and babies and the world, just made it OK to be who I was, uninhibited.
I think that maybe the natural state of things is for people to go around singing and skipping and clapping their hands and saying HI MUM HI MUM HI MUM HI MUM HI MUM, and my mom's acceptance and love and bemused, exasperated acceptance made it OK to lapse into that natural state of things.
I know that I owe some essential things to my Mom.
My love of nature, and my feeling of kinship with trees and plants and green things that grow.
My love of animals, and my propensity to talk with them as if they understand every word.
My belief that derision is the surest sign of affection.
And there are other things that I will never be able to do like my Mom did.
Her culinary talent and her knack for entertaining
Her creativity and artistry with all the things she made, the mosaics,
the Christmas angels and ornaments, the beautiful drawings that decorated every card she sent.
I am still not sure how to go on without all that. I guess you do it by being thankful for what we had, like that one week in the Adirondacks just two weeks before she died, when she got to be in the only place she wanted to be. I am so glad I spent time with her just sitting in her garden, sitting at the kitchen table, going for short walks, driving and talking.
And I guess you do it by keeping alive all the things she represented, the irreverence, the humor, the love of family and animals and nature, and the wild, unfettered, ridiculous blast of joy.
My Mom was this blog's most devoted reader, and she loved it when I wrote a post that celebrated her and celebrated our family. She was moved when my blog friends said nice things in response to my posts about her and about my childhood. My Mom sometimes felt unappreciated, and those posts were a way to try to fix that.
My family has started a blog devoted entirely to her life, where my sister, my aunt, and others will post our stories, memories, and celebrations of my Mom.
Mom, we will miss having you here with us but will think of you as a bright stream of laughter coursing through the universe, a blast of energy bringing your vitality to all living things and nourishing gardens of green growing life as you did when you were here.