Clockwork heart

I have a clock work heart.

In the morning when I wake up, all the gears tick, spin and whirr. They turn without protest as I swing my feet out of bed and go about my morning routine. Slow and steady, spokes touch spokes, turning the great machine that is my body and brain into a slide-show of normality.

I wash my face.
(That looks like my mother’s if she were fat.)
I brush my teeth.
(That are crooked like hers but not like hers.)
I brush my hair.
(That darkened from a daisy-blond, like my mothers. That is thinning as I age. Like my mothers.)

I put on clothes if I need to go out or I just put on clean pajamas to wander about the house. Sometimes I do things I normally do with the sense that I am forgetting something hovering behind my shoulder at all times. When I bend down to get the egg nog from the fridge. When I go to wipe down a counter. When I sweep up dust from the floor I think–What did I forget? What was I doing? What am I missing? 

And like a child about to cross the street I’ll be in the middle of doing my every-day things when I stop to look both ways, thinking there’s something I should be doing.

I look at my christmas tree.
I lay in bed at night and try not to wake Shawn up as I stare at the christmas lights in our bed room window and think how dull. How awful. 

Inside my heart the pieces wind down as the clock keeps ticking. Memories become slug-thick, crude oil that trickle down into all the once-working pieces until I can feel it struggle. The wheels are slowing down. My mother sitting, bored, in a car waiting for my father. I act the idiot just to entertain her and get her to laugh. It works. Ten o’clock at night. Christmas eve. The spokes are slipping against once another in the mess of slick-despair. Two years ago. My mother takes me out one night to the casino. She keeps spending money. She keeps saying she has a good feeling about this machine or that. More money. Soon she’s spent so much that I dread us coming home. We are so far in disbelief at how much money she’s lost we’re laughing out heads off, hooting and howling, cackling and giggling the whole way home from Calgary to Airdrie. On the door step, my mother laughs so hard she cries at the same time. She has to lean on the door so as not to fall down. I laugh with her because there’s nothing more in my life I loved more than my mother, happy. It’s hard for my heart to keep working. It keeps skipping, slipping, the wheels are choking on flecks of dirt that bind delicate mechanics. I’m not looking at the tinsel on my walls and I refuse to turn around and look at my tree. I think about all the places I promised I’d take her when she visited me here in Florida. I think about all the food she’d never eat, the things I wanted to show her she’d never see…I think about Disney. She’d always dreamed of seeing disney. She never will, now. 

My heart winds down to a stop, all the gears jumble up on top of one another squeezing against my lungs. Springs, strings, screws and broken childhood dreams pile up on one another; cars in the snow on the highway that don’t know when to put their brakes on. It grows and grows and grows until it feels just like an angry hand reaches in to squeeze all the happiness out.

It feels just like dying.
Like someone you love, has died.

I have a clock work heart. During the day, its gears whirrr and spin, carrying me through the mundane with what feels like normal.

At night, it stops, and I am small and lost. There is no lullaby to sooth it. The woman who once sang me songs in the terror of my night is gone. I hear only the sound of wheels slowing to silence.

Darlene Mae Noseworthy
April 2nd, 1956 – December 11th, 2011
My Mother. 

 

Just give me one moment more.

My mother.

What do I say about my mother? What can I say about her?

“She was beautiful.”
Of course she was. She was my  mother after all. What child who does not love their mother think their mother is anything but? Even when crows feet begin their slow, inevitable climb at the corners of their eyes. Even when their hair starts to go a little grey at the temples.

“She was strong.”
Any woman who gives birth to a child and doesn’t give in to the urges to go utterly mad with sacrificing her own life to the raising of a little mini human with the attitude of a short dictator and the cleaning skills of an angry ape is strong.

“She was brave.”
Any one facing the plethora of health issues that she faced for the better part of nearly 20 years had to be. Any parent raising a child who insisted on running away from home at 15, who screwed up her own life and in turn, her own parents–had to be brave. There’s nothing else to be. You either womaned up or you let it wash over you and drown you in sorrow.

My mother was a woman. She was a woman of the bluest eyes when she laughed. When she would put on her favorite dress and jacket, when she would put on her favorite eye shadow and mascara and drive around the town for no other reason because she could. Sometimes her eyes were grey, too. Just like rain clouds on a day with sun, they were soft when she smiled and hard when you disappointed her. She was a tall woman, too, with long arms and legs and tiny little hands and fingers.

We Rawding ladies (that’s my mother’s family) used to complain about our big thick wrists and chunky fingers. But my mother’s hands were never that. They were fine and slim and made for tickling, or brushing away tears, or wearing the more delicate of rings.

My mother was a woman. She bore me with little–and sometimes with great–complaint. She bore me into this world and she did her best to guide me even when I did everything in my power not to listen to her. Even when the things that inevitably come out of your mouth as a teenager was horrible, spiteful, mean and heart breaking.

Even when I made what was, to become my ultimate and worst mistake of my life.

My mother was a woman who loved me without question. When others asked her, “How could you love your daughter after what she did to you?” She would look them in the eye as if they’d spring four heads and ask, “How could I not love her? She’s my daughter.”

How many times I have squandered the chance to show her the same, unconditional love that she showed me? I will never be able to count it all. All the disappointments I have given her over the years, all of which she bore as silently as she bore many things. Secrets that she held that I will now never know.

Mom at Denny's

There aren’t enough pages in the world to cover who my mother was. There aren’t books for me to point to, to make you understand the magnificence of this woman who quietly passed like a star across a summer sky: bright and beautiful, but gone half way before she could light up the rest of the night. You can’t put a soul into a piece of writing and have it breathe again. You can’t put into the book the smell of her, the sound of her laugh, the crush of her frown and the heartbreak of knowing you were the one to make her cry. It isn’t possible.

There isn’t a word for the way I feel right now. There isn’t a pretty poem or paragraph that I have in my entire fucking being that could do this woman any justice. Until the day I die, I will never be able to sing you the song of my mother.

Of the young girl with daisy-bright blond hair smiling into the sun, who liked to be a bit of a wild child.
Of the young woman whose smile made her eyes slant in merriment, her whole face light up like a torch sparked in the darkest of nights, coldest of places.
Of the mother who tried so hard to understand her little girl who didn’t turn out at all like she thought she might.
Of the woman who fought against a disease that ate at her body until even her heart gave out.

There will never be a word in all of the human language to describe what this world has lost and will never know.
What I have lost, and will never get back.
All the chances to tell her that I love her and am so proud of her and that she didn’t do anything wrong when she raised me, that she did exactly all the right things–there’s simply no promise that your daughter won’t be a big giant ass about it and ignore everything you tell her.
I won’t be able to to tell her how beautiful she was, how loved she was, how amazing.

My mother.
She was brave. She was beautiful. She was strong.
She was my mother.
And now she is gone.

Please take this moment to hunt your family down and make sure you tell them you love them. Tell your cousin. Tell your sister whom you are exceptionally pissed with. Tell your husband, your wife, make sure they know. Every day. Don’t care if they roll their eyes or if they wave their hands and go, “yeah, yeah, I know. ” Make it your quest in life to let the people around you know that you care. That you think about them. That you love them with every fiber of your very being even when you are yelling at one another and cannot fucking stand to be in the same room with each other–tell them you fucking love them god damn it, because someday you can’t. Some day you won’t be able to and then all you will be consumed with is how much you would give anything to be able to tell them one last time.

Because some day you will be where I am. And there will not be a single shred of anything you can do that will sum up all that you have lost and all that you will never get back.

So love, and be loved.

Mom, where ever you are…I am sorry. You deserved so much more than what life handed you. You deserved a much better daughter.  I am so sorry. I’m sorry. I love you.