Friday, March 7, 2014

End of the World

There sits a small framed portrait of my mother on the top of the tall bookcase next to my desk at home. Beside the portrait is the plastic funeral urn that holds her ashes, and beside that is a plastic plant, because she was always good with houseplants and I am not.

In the portrait, her face is enigmatic. A little bit sad and a little bit proud. I didn’t see it before, but I see it now and I know why.

She gave birth to four sons, raised them to be good men, and waved goodbye as each, in turn, left to join the greater world. Thrice divorced, she lived alone with a little dog, a little cat, a little goldfish, and a little jungle of houseplants. Until she died.

I have a daughter. I raised her for eighteen years. I was her world and she was mine, until she became a woman and left to join the greater world. I am happy for her beyond all my capacity for emotion. I am proud of her with a selfish pride. I made this. Look at my accomplishment. I am a craftsman who makes fine people.

Then I felt the sadness. I spent so much of myself preparing her for the greater world that I forgot to prepare myself for a world without her. A hole in my life that nothing else can fill. No dog. No cat. No goldfish. No stupid houseplant can replace a child that no longer needs a parent.

There it was. That look on my mother’s face is the same one I see in the mirror now. 

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