Maman 

Men weib jeyebtileh heyde el jaquette?
Toi, ton jean est très joli.
My mom, on her deathbed

There s a cliché that will never stop being true: those who leave us never really leave. It’s not because you can’t see them that they’re not there, safely tucked away in a fold in your heart, the love you had for each other, the warmth they gave you inextinguishible, forever burning like a mark within you. 

My mother left us. Those four words I thought I’d never have to write, those four words that are killing me, those four words you pray never to have to utter, you pray to a God you’re now not so sure exists never to have to say them. 
I could tell you about the cancer that killed her: for let us be clear, there was ‘no lost battle against cancer’, no war, no fight. There is no war or battle possible when the enemy is a sneaky little bastard that eats away at you. You can’t fight your own cells gone haywire, and you can’t call a battle what is basically a colonisation. So let us all cut the crap about the palatable narrative around breast cancer. 
I could tell you about her suffering, about the treatments, about the cowardice and condescendance of doctors and kindness of nurses. 
But all of this, this was not my mother. My mother was a woman who gave the word flamboyant its full meaning, a woman made for laughter and smiles and beautiful jewelry and clothes and colours. In a bleak world, she was a streak of lightning. She had an opinion on everything, from how ginger was not to be added to any kind of food to how my hair was nicer straightened to how the way I dressed was half originial half completely crazy. She had class, she had character, and strength and a sense of humour and wit and kindness. 
I will forever remember the smell and the feel of her skin when I kissed her, the inflection of her voice when she called me Paolitta, our daily numerous phone calls, the way she shrugged and uttered ‘c’est n’importe quoi’ whenever I emitted an idea she deemed ‘trop moderne’, the beautiful cook she was, the way she taught me everything there is to know about cooking and living, really.  I will always remember every tiny thing about her, and I want to remember every little thing about her, because you see, she was my mother. And a pretty fucking good one at that. And above all, I will, forever, and ever, remember the love she had for my father, her husband of 38 years, my sister and I, and for her granddaughters, for I shall, as long as I live, carry that love around with me and within me, like an unbreakable, bullet proof shield she gave me. 
And that, neither disease nor death can ever take  away from me. 

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One thought on “Maman 

  1. Dear Paola,
    i’m so sorry for your mother. I lost my mother in 2001 and everyday I think of her. She is always there in my heart and sometimes when I’m walking I see her in the flowers or in the birds. I feel her spirit is with me. Grieve as much as you want to , and with time you will be calmer and understand that she is always with you.
    kind thoughts,
    Charlotte

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