When my mother was asked on her deathbed of she had any regrets, she responded, “I wish I had been nicer.”
The woman was a freaking saint. She was loving and patient and brilliant and funny and everything you want your mother to be. I do not ever remember her uttering a harsh word to anyone (except George Bush, but come on, who hasn’t?)
But, then I thought, maybe she wished her thoughts had been nicer. I get that.
People who kind of know me would say I am a very nice and kind person. But people who really know me have seen the dark side of me, especially the people who knew me before I quit drinking. Those unfortunate few have definitely seen my Mr, Hyde and it ain’t pretty.
When someone posted a hurtful comment to my blog yesterday, I will admit, my first thought was absolutely not, “oh he/she must be hurting in some way.”
My first feeling was “ouch.” It hurt. It stung, and then, somewhere in there came fear - fear of being mocked, fear of not being accepted or loved. I am, after all, no different than any other person on this planet – I want to be loved and accepted by my peers. After toying with several different versions of a reply, most of which were expletive-laden, I settled in on kindness.
Before she died, I asked my mother how she was so nice and how she had become such a wonderful person and how on earth could someone as damaged as me even reach for that level of humanity. “Pay it forward,” she said.
I miss her so much. She was so beautiful and so smart and I so wish she was here to guide me.
But she is not. And I am here.
My heart is big and I wear it on my sleeve. That is what I was thinking last night as I was going to sleep, pondering the day’s events. I was feeling fearful that I was not a good mother, that I was making a fool of myself on a daily basis by even pretending to be a writer and that a colleague I respect and adore had lost respect for me.
And so, my head wandered to my heart and how for so many years I worked so hard at keeping it all hidden inside and pretending like nothing effected me. And then the pressure of that enormous job got to be too much and I decided it was easier to just take my heart and my emotions and place them where they belong…right out on my wrist like a prom corsage.
And then the memories rushed through my brain like flood waters. I went to the Brother Martin Homecoming Dance with someone, [although, sadly I do not remember who – let’s call this mystery date Jack] and he gave me one of those wrist corsages. I don’t know if kids today still do that, but for some reason every dance involved not only the laborious process of sifting out a date, but also buying a dress and making sure your date knew what color the dress was so he could bring you a corsage.
Although I was grateful for the wrist corsage, as I do not like still to have anything pinned to my clothes, this thing was like a banquet centerpiece and it had mini gold footballs stuck in it. I spent the whole night trying to lose it on the dance floor. Every time I managed to ditch it, Jack would come running up to me, “You dropped this!” or “Look what I found!”
That is what my life is like these days, every time I try to hide my heart and the feelings inside, they keep reappearing, strapped to my wrist, replete with tacky charms.