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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Smoke & Mirrors

I haven't written in a while, primarily because life has thrown me a series of curveballs worthy of the most melodramatic of soap operas. I have only recently started to begin putting back the pieces of shattered expectations and dreams around the devastation of the last several months.

My mother passed away on my birthday last year, and while her death was certainly an event that had been on the horizon for a while, the circumstances made it difficult to adequately prepare for.

Today, as I was cleaning my room, I came across a menu for a Korean restaurant here in town; it was a restaurant both my mom and I enjoyed immensely. It's amazing how sometimes your senses conspire to bring forth memories. When I held that menu, bits of a conversation started to come back to me; a conversation that I had recently with a friend, and a conversation I had with my mother before her passing.

In the recent conversation with my friend, we talked about whether life is really worth living when you have to accept significant restrictions to keep living. At what point is enough enough? At what point does the burden of existence become too much to bear?

My mom had a host of health problems over the last several years; many exacerbated by her lack of seeking medical care and taking a measure of personal responsibility for her problems. I watched her decline from the incredible, take- charge woman she was into a stranger I barely knew or understood anymore.

That's not the point though; the point is...that menu. My mom was a diabetic, one who struggled with keeping her blood sugar controlled despite being insulin dependent. One day, after arguing for the millionth time with her about why she couldn't have a package of galletas (Cuban crackers) in her room, she hands me the menu and says to me that she'll treat us both to lunch if I go buy her a soft-shelled crab from the Korean place.

I remember looking at her in disbelief; here I have been doing everything to promote whole grains, and whole wheat breads, and portion control, and moderation, and Mom wants a crab. Not just a crab, but a deep-fried one. I remember turning on my heel after saying no, and leaving her room.

I retreated to mine to think, angry over what I saw as her total lack of attention to her health, over what I saw as her obvious refusal to take care of herself. It was a scene that had played out hundreds of times over the last few years, and I was frustrated.

She never asked me for a soft-shell crab again, and a few months later, Mom died. Today, I found that menu, and I thought, "I should have bought the stupid crab."

I wonder now if my refusal to yield to her was really done in her best interests, or if it was my stubborn refusal to accept that saving her from herself was something that was simply beyond the scope of my abilities; I wonder if my refusal was ultimately the culmination of a selfish wish I had to have a better relationship with her, a wish that never, could never come true.

But most of all, I wonder if she knows I miss her still, and I wonder if she knows I loved her, even if it wasn't possible for us to have the relationship I wanted so much.

I think I will keep that menu...as a reminder that sometimes there is more to life than consequences, as a reminder that things are sometimes more than what they appear to be on the surface.