All that I've written above could have been written by any impartial observer. When my sister called this afternoon begging me to come to the hospice center to see Mom-Mom before she passed, I admit that my main emotion was annoyance. I was never close to that family. When my own mom died the year before my son was born, I found it hard to reconcile years of abuse I'd suffered at her hands with the general sense of remorse and sadness seen at her funeral. My own sisters admitted that they could think of nothing positive to say about her in her eulogy, which ended up focusing on her love of plants and the seashore. Yet, despite the shared past my sisters and I had, they and my Dad still berated me for not crying at Mom's funeral. At the time I was so hurt that they could say one thing about my mom behind closed doors, but then chastise me for not pretending to be a well-loved, mourning daughter. In fact, my own feelings on my mom's death bordered on elation. I felt like a heartless, shameless jade.
Since the time I left for college at age 17, my relationship with my family has been marked by a purposeful emotional distance on my part. After years and years of feeling worthless, helpless, and small, I finally had the opportunity to come into my own. But it seems that since about 2000, each year a different member of my mother's family dies and I am forced to deal with my inadequate emotional response to death. Not just deal with it on a personal level, but actually being confronted by family members for not being "sad enough".
And so begins this latest round. I will go to see my Mom-Mom tonight, and likely will feel a strong sense of distance between myself and the woman in the bed. Mom-Mom never hurt me, but we were never close either. She was part of an entity that had maligned and censored me, even if she never did those things herself. And so she was distanced from me.
And now, I will pay the penalty for that distance by being shamed into grief.