Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ode to a Daughter

What a Difference...

...a year makes.

Last year I posted a Mother's Day blog that was subtly aimed at my bulimic daughter who was struggling just to make through each day.   But she had begun to follow my blog, which at the time was mainly about my mother and the trials and travails of trying to handle a proud, stubborn woman whose will overshadowed her ability.  This Mother's Day they are both gone, along with my friend Linda, my dog Myrna, and my cousin Sharlene (who died two days before Mother).  I know friends who lost have parents in the past year as well.  Add that to the long list of celebrity losses, and it seems to be a year just dripping heavily with sorrow.  However, I know this is really no different than a lot of years are for a lot of other mothers.  I think of the women who are mourning their sons or daughters who died in Iraq or Afghanistan.  I think of the families who have dealt with the loss of loved ones in the Twin Towers or in Oklahoma all those years ago.  Do their Mother's Days get any better with the passage of time?  I won't be able to really speculate on that one for a while.

However, after a bad beginning of the week, dreading in advance this first Mother's Day of my new life, I've decided to try and take another approach.  I've decided I need to look at what I have and not what I've lost.   I have my daughter Marissa.  And she's awesome.

Marissa bought tickets to the ballet for us as my gift.  She presented them to me early so I'd have time to think about what I was going to wear, what to do with my hair and plan around hockey if necessary.  I was so touched that she did for me what I'm going to try and turn around and do for her on Kelsey's birthday:  distract the crap out of her.  But, she's special like that. 

Marissa is a survivor. She has battled demons that would have toppled almost everyone else: addiction, anorexia, and loss. Lots of loss. Before Kelsey passed away, she already wore a tattoo around her arm that says, "God protects Old Folks and Fools" over top a green butterfly. It is a tribute to a friend of hers who passed away from a heroine overdose. I went with her to his funeral on a cold December day, and I've been with her to two others, I went to one without her when she was in Alldredge and a friend was killed after being hit by a car along the side of the road. She's been to a few without me. Friends lost to cancer, suicide, drugs or auto accidents.  Every one just as tragic as the last.  I would have worried about the amount of loss she's endured even before she lost her sister.

But, then came that hardest loss of all.  They fought and they complained about the other one, but one thing I never doubted was that they loved one another completely.  They shared a bond no one else can understand exactly.  All sisters have it I think, but the sisters who have come through the fires that Kelsey and Marissa did I think are uniquely forged to one another.  The poor trooper who had to deliver me the news about Kelsey was still standing outside my motel door when I immediately began to worry how Marissa would handle this.  I think I even looked up at the young man, so clearly uncomfortable to be there at that moment, and asked him how I was supposed to tell her.   He didn't have anything to say to that.

And she has grieved very deeply.  She has periods where I sense that she finds it almost overwhelming.  Yet, she rebounds.  She carries on.  She does what Kelsey would have wanted for her:  she is living.  Her grades are great; she just finished her first full year of college.  She has an awesome boyfriend.  They occasionally are not quite awesome as a couple, like all young people trying to wind their way around a committed relationship, and they will get frustrated or hurt or angry or all of the above with one another, but they work it out.  At their best, they clearly love one another and support one another emotionally.  They are becoming adults by trial and error, which is the only way really to do it, and it's awesome to see.

But beyond just living, she is living the right way.  She is sober, she is honest, and she is open about herself. She has had to leave some of her friends behind her to remain sober, but she cares sincerely for the people in her life and tries to make sure she shows them.  If I had crafted how I wanted my daughter to be 20 years later on the day she was born, this is exactly what I would chosen.  I just would wanted her to have a smoother road to get there.

Oh yeah, and the most awesome thing about Marissa:  she's a Steeler Fan!

I really could not be more proud.  Therefore, today, on a day that can topple me over with the weight of my sorrow, I will choose to remember the very wonderful thing I do have.

Marissa Pearl, I love you.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sitting at my desk with huge alligator tears in my eyes.

    I was thinking about you yesterday, wondering what you were going to do to get through it.

    It sounds like you and Marissa had a wonderful time, and I hope she runs across this sweet little tribute some day!

    I would also like to add the second most awesome thing about Marissa: She can bake like the Dickens!

    I hope you enjoyed the ballet on Cheryl & Marissa day (formerly known as Mother's Day).