The moment Moms voice cracked and tears nearly fell, has been with me over the past days. I keep thinking back to the tremendous amount of fear and stress it took for those emotions to finally surface in front of me. I have never seen Mom cry and yesterday shed additional light onto why this might be.
Since our soup night (see post “Work in Progress”), Mom has been more open to talk about things that she has carried within herself for the past 44 years. Things dating back to the moment Dad died in a work accident, when life changed unimaginably in the blink of an eye. The subject turned to Dad again last night as I was visiting, and the prior times of her talking about him have been rare. What I mean with that is the times that concern his death. She began to say that she used to cook in the evening because Dad worked during the day. She voiced trouble remembering not to do so after his death, and I’m sure she cooked anyways. “I would run from window to window, waiting, wondering where he was, until I remembered that he wouldn’t come home anymore” she said. My heart sank seeing her sit in front of me, head down like a little pile of hurt and sorrow, that resembled the remains of what was left from years of pain and a life of struggle. It all became so much clearer for me and although I always had a great deal of compassion and understanding for her, this was on a total new level. I felt transported back to that time, as if I jumped into her body, feeling it firsthand. If I could have waived my hand to take it all away, there would have been no hesitation. I even carry that burden for awhile to hear her laugh carefree and happy, to have never experienced such horror.
I swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat and started talking to her. I hoped to encourage her to keep going, to vent, to let it out and ultimately feel better. I shared what I remembered by saying that I know it was Saturday morning and that I was still in my bed, in my room. I heard Grandpa (my paternal grandfather) ring the doorbell and I heard his muffled voice through the door. I remember holding my breath, trying to listen and all went blank from there. The next thing I remember is driving to the accident site, but I don’t remember who was driving. I see myself standing next to Mom, amongst the adults. Everything was in a fog, the voices so distant, people looked so huge and I felt so small. I see the police holding Mom back as she walked towards the gapping black hole, the door on which other end Dad’s burnt remains were. Kindly, they suggested for her to keep him in her memory the way she remembered him instead of seeing him like this. I told her that this was all that I could remember and that without a doubt I blocked much out over the years. I believe the body self protects itself during times of horror by doing so. “Well you cried and screamed, you couldn’t calm down until the doctor came and gave you a shot” she said. I can’t even articulate what I felt in that moment, hearing her say this, as I have no recollection of this at all. It’s been going through my mind ever since. She further explained that I did hear what happened through the door as grandpa was telling Mom about his sons and her husbands death. I now understand the trauma I experienced, why I don’t remember and that drugs made everything appear fog-like for that initial day. As I’m reconnecting with this moment as an adult, so many years later, I feel chills and my heart fills with sadness. It changed our lives. I understand how difficult it must have been for Mom to keep it all together. What immense amount of strengths this woman had to muster to go on after such a blow, after losing her soulmate.
Immediately there was the realization of her husband gone. Then her young daughter starts crying uncontrollably and can’t calm down. Not only her own loss to deal with, but now she had to worry about me as well. I understand now what she meant as she said that she kept everything away from me and why she did it. She’s talking about trouble, emotions and feelings that could have triggered another reaction like the one I had. I think she was afraid it would, that it would damage me and leave signs and scars that couldn’t be erased. She tried to protect me and keep it all away from me. Except I grew up a person that needed feelings and emotions, that had experienced loss and had to cope in my own way, with little help. Yet, Mom did the best she could and I was a child, not someone Mom could open up to, to find relief and comfort for her own grief. Back in those days it wasn’t common to see a psychiatrist and it was even frowned upon. Something was wrong with you, perhaps you were dumm, an idiot. How uneducated and shallow we must have been back then. We simply didn’t know better and didn’t understand. Therefore it was foreign and avoided all together. You suffered alone, had to get it together, be strong and tough, lock away your feelings, just like Mom did. I look back and my heart is heavy for the life that she had. Not knowing her own father for the first 11 years as he was a POW. Living through a war, fleeing a country with nothing but a few things on your back, the sirens that still go off here but now signal different troubles such as fires etc, besides the bomb alarms and invasions back then. Never really having a childhood and having to grow up way too soon, finding bliss with your soulmate to have it ripped away from you again. Raising me by herself with no outside help to digest all the heartache, while trying to find her own way in all of it.
Her way of talking about it to me yesterday showed progress. Although she didn’t completely let go as I sat next to her and held her after she told me about the doctor and the shot he had given me, she still released a little pressure. We shared a moment together and I didn’t held back to control my own emotions. It’s been twice now that I have seen tear filled eyes, all within this week and perhaps my purpose has changed once more. I understand as to why I had no connection to my old room. I never slept in it again after the message of Dad’s death. It was nearly my childhood room but had no memories attached to it, other then that major, bad one. I don’t remember ever playing in it with a girlfriend. It was a bad place for me, one I didn’t want to return to. Strangely I’ve been sleeping in my room since I came back to Germany and feel that I have spent more time there now then before. It is true and after all, we had just recently moved into that house back in 74 as Dad died. That room has resembled unfinished business to me in a way I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know what it was until now, I just felt that I needed to spend time in it. Since, it has become a room I feel closest to Dad these days, and a place that has given me a little sanctuary. Crazy to consider the turn around, now that I know the full story, but I know it is so because healing has taken place.
My purpose in coming to Germany has always been to help Mom, but also to find my own healing. It’s a time where her life is changing in dramatic ways as she loses control of being independent. Over the past six month I have witnessed Mom struggle many times and I know that she is not at peace. Peace is something that I wish for her, peace is something that I want her to take with her when she leaves this world. Peace is something I think I have seen glimpses of within her. My dear friend Amanda always reminds me to bring the light to Mom’s darkness. I think the light resembles peace, and I think by Mom opening up, releasing some of the emotions she had to hold for the past 44 years, is allowing a little peace and light to fill her soul, replacing the hurt with hope and perhaps this has been my purpose all along.