There must have been a zillion reasons as to why my mother and I stopped speaking to each other, but if you ask me now what any of those reasons were, I wouldn't be able to tell you. Not because I don't remember, but because I'm tired of remembering only the crap. And more importantly, I don't want to lose the memory of the great part. A few weeks ago, I had a deep feeling that if I could just get over myself, I might be lucky enough to find that great part again. I decided enough was enough. I contacted her.
But not before being honest about my own feelings. I assumed my mother still loved me, as that's sort of how it goes with mothers. Since I am one, I know. And if she did still love me, I thought, our relationship might be able to be restored. Before our own personal cold war set in we were close friends. So there had to be something left for us -- maybe even something great, right? After all, this was my mother: my beautiful, talented, intelligent, fabulous mother. Greatness was what she was all about, and greatness -- or at least the illusion of it -- is what she gave me. Unfortunately, with all that greatness oozing out of us, the mother-daughter dynamic -- in all of its ego-maniacal fury -- rose up like Sluggo The Femme Beast and knocked us both out of the ballpark.
And I wondered -- did that beast even exist any longer? Or did the two-headed she-devil extinguish herself a long time ago, and was I still maintaining my futile post in a war that was long over?
With no fight left in me, and no reason at all to deny myself the gift of having a brilliant mom in my life, I wrote her an email.
And she responded within minutes. Just like a mother, huh? Six years had gone by without a word, and on this particular day, it was as if she had just been sitting there, waiting for me to write.
Seems she'd been just as burnt out on the fight as I was, and though we never really confronted why we ever fought, the reasons seemed suddenly irrelevant. All we knew was that we were separated, and then we were brought back together.
Our reconnection brought a sense of renewal I hadn't anticipated. We both felt it. The past was dead. We were silly humans who had wasted a lot of precious time fighting, and now we were done.
With the past dead and the future unknown, the only thing we had left to explore was that which we'd both avoided for so long: the present. Between the historic, "I am so mad at you for what you've done," and the sworn (and highly dramatic) promise of, "I'll never speak to you again," we both forgot what it was like to know each other in the moment.
Upon embracing this present state, I believe we were finally allowed to fully appreciate all the unnecessary things we'd trashed along with the relationship. Things like -- admitting that my own daughter's amazingly fantastic figure is so much like my mother's, and that maybe she inherited those genes from her... or perhaps, coming to terms with the fact that I've killed off certain aspects of my own self as to not warrant any comparison to the woman who brought me into the world.
And why? How bad were those aspects and why would I want to dismiss my own inheritance? After all, I'm a writer, just like my mother. I'm an artist -- cultured, literate and dare I say a tad sophisticated? I mean, come on, this lady schlepped me to the Met almost every weekend, and if not the Met, then the MOMA, Frick or Whitney. She took me on her spiritual journeys, her literary jaunts, her play writing ventures, her Advanced Education courses at Parsons, Egyptology, The Bethesda Fountain in the 70's, the I Ching, skiing in the Catskills, seances, vacationing in Greece, summers at Fire Island -- this was her doing.
She was and is a very interesting person, and because of her interests, I became who I am, today.
As for our differences, so what? That's what makes a world, right? Peace is a better choice for today. Especially when you're burnt out on war.
What makes me happy is that I didn't get there too late -- I didn't wait until regret was my only option. I still have my mother. She's still vibrant, exciting, and challenging, and I once again get to hover close and take it all in. I can say, "Mom, you're a gift," to her, not just whisper it into space, hoping it reaches her across the distance between us. I can say, "I love you," and be there when she smiles and says, "I know."