A Letter To My Mother

Dear Mum

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to fall from a great height and survive; what the impact of my body hitting the ground would feel like. Would I pass out? Or would I lie there, all the breath knocked out of me, at one with the moment?

Since you’ve been gone, I feel like I’ve jumped off a cliff and tried to fly. My back is fucked, I have a constant cough (probably more due to the amount of cigarettes I’m sucking down than anything else), my knee is giving out and I’m tired all the time. All the fucking time. My wife gave me a massage last night that left me in tears. In trying to fix my back, she released all this emotional garbage that was caught up in the muscles, sinews and tendons supporting my spine. I sobbed like a child, keening and hiccuping, like the world was ending. Something has to change.

Something has changed. The world has hit breaking point and I feel we are on the brink of a world war. This is what history has dictated since we have failed to learn from it. It may seem that all the conflict is oceans away from those of us here at the bottom of the world. Distance – usually a tyrant – is saving us from the immediacy of suicide bombs and guns and planes being shot from the sky. We weigh in our opinions on issues we know little about – not for lack of trying, but simply because what we are fed through mainstream media is homogenised, censored and spun into webs of carefully worded (dis)information. Those seeking transparency are labelled as kooks, naysayers and agitators. We as a people are being gently patted on the head and told not to worry, it’s too far away from us, here, have a free iPad!

A lot has happened in the world in the past two months since you passed. A man held up a chocolate store in Sydney. The country thought it was terrorism, when in reality it was one unhinged man on a rampage. Staff of a racist, xenophobic magazine were gunned down by religious extremists in France. Neither party was in the right as neither freedom of religion nor freedom of speech justifies such violence. Thousands of people were massacred in Nigeria. Nobody knew about it here because the victims weren’t white or Christian or American or important.

Evil isn’t so easily defined anymore. I’m afraid of what the world is becoming. I’m afraid of what I’m becoming. I’m so angry, quick to snap at anyone for anything, allowing myself to get dragged down by other people’s shit, hating on myself for getting a little bit fat, I’m publicly reacting to things I have no business reacting to, letting the little things become big deals. My wife is suffering; it’s been such a difficult year for her. She’s not been doing well; the pressure of the past year has finally gotten to her and the shit has hit the fan. She’s struggling with newly diagnosed depression, and I’m struggling to support her. She met you and you were a support for her and she needs you so much and now you’re gone.

Why aren’t you here? Why did you have to go? I am a child, because all I’m thinking about is my grief and what’s happening to me when all this stuff is going on in the world. The times I have thought how much I’ve needed you is triple the amount before you went. That’s funny, isn’t it? You were always there, always sending me cute emails, always ready to give help when I needed it, which in reality wasn’t often. Now that you’re not here, every time something goes wrong or a celebration is due, I feel your absence keenly. I’ve seen you no more than eight times in the last 19 years, but your energy was always with me. My brother assures me you’re now looking over me. I can’t feel it yet.

All I can feel is this emptiness. I’m lost. So very lost. Theatre, usually the saviour of my soul, holds no joy for me anymore. My home, usually my sanctuary, is threatened by malicious outside forces. My love for K, the thing I’ve fought for at the expense of friendship and my reputation, is buckling under the weight of somebody else’s hate. I want to run. We both want to run back home to the safety of you, but you’re not here anymore, and I’m so angry and sad and grief-stricken.

I needed to talk to you the other day. Not about anything in particular. Just to talk to you and hear one of your stories about Daisy the cow, or the crazy things you and your kin would get up to on the property, or the songs you would sing for Granddad. I wanted to hear more about your nursing days, about you parachuting out of planes and landing in the ocean, about the judo you learned so you could be safe and independent. I even wanted to hear the sorry story of you and my father, how you loved him, how you failed each other. I wanted to tell you that I’ve forgiven you for your violence towards me when I was a child, that I forgave you long ago, and that your death brought all of that shit back up again, and I had to reconcile who you were then with how you were before you died. Two different women. One I feared, the other I admired. One I grieved for, the other I celebrated. I wanted to tell you that I understood. I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you saw and heard all the terrible things I did to myself and other people during those awful years of my twenties and that you loved me anyway. You never threw it in my face. You never told me you were disappointed. You just told me that you loved me, that I was your precious girl, and that you were so proud of me.

I had so little patience with you the last few years. You seemed so caught up in your pain and in your past. You would linger there, dwelling in all the things that hurt you, refusing to let go of that and see the present for what it was. I didn’t know, until you died and I was sitting on your bed in your bedroom, how hard you tried. I saw the symbols of your faith throughout your house: crosses, pictures of Buddha, your precious angels, notes to yourself reminding you to let go and be thankful. I saw those things and I felt so ashamed that I didn’t have more faith in you. My gods, you tried. You tried so hard. I’m so sorry.

I miss you. I miss you like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I wish you were here.

My eternal love,