Steve Harvey is a great comedian. I vividly remember watching him on Kings of Comedy tell a great story about how women really needed to "build a man." One man simply cannot do all the things that a woman needs, so she must build a man using about 4 different types of men to get satisfaction out of her life. One had to be rich, one gay, one old, one vibrant and sexy...and the joke went on. It was really funny and I still smile when I think of it. Not such a crazy idea really.
The Indigo Girls wrote a song years ago called "Kid Fears." It's about having a tough childhood, and there's a line in there about how we should "replace the ones that we love." This is what I had to do.
I was very young when my mother and father divorced, too young to remember the loss on the day it happened. I have no idea what my parents argued about, how it all went down, the looks on their faces, the things she packed when she left. All I know is that the loss I can't remember, the thing that changed my life forever, has hurt me all these years. I hardly ever heard from my mother after she left. But in that empty space, there was a soft spot for me to fall some days - most days even.
If Steve Harvey could tell the story, he'd say I built myself a mother.
My Granny was there almost everyday as I grew. I lived with her part of those years. She cooked for me, took care of me when I was sick, talked to me and instilled values in me. When I was sad she'd hold me close in bed beside her, tell me stories, pat me on the back. She was a gift to me all the years I had her. Then she was gone.
My Aunt Sharon was my oh so cool aunt. She took me school shopping when I was little, let me spend nights at her house with my cousins, took us to the mall when we were teens, and she thought I was smart. I loved that she called me for my opinion when I got older. She was the one who told me when I was 21 that I wouldn't know who I was until I was at least 30. She was right. I'm 36 and I'm still baffled by some things. Two months before Granny died, we lost Sharon to a hard-fought battle with cancer.
My Aunt Barbara was the last in my trio of mother figures. She was a lot like Granny in that she was a great cook, and tried her best to keep our family grounded after so much loss. She was very funny, had strong arms and gave tight hugs. Just a few weeks ago she brought a bunch of clothes over for my daughter. She'd been shopping and found a deal. She thought of me like another one of her own. I can't tell you how many weekends I spent with her as a child. I always felt safe and loved in her presence. I remember that she gave me a lot of touch - held me in her lap, ran her fingers through my hair, hugged me tight every time I saw her. And tragically, she is now gone too. We lost her on Sunday. My family will never be the same.
The sadness I feel right now might not be temporary. It might be permanent. I'm in a dark place for sure. When I was in my 20's I remember Hootie and The Blowfish had a song about a "motherless child." I always identified with it because I felt like when I was small I wore a big banner that said, hey...here's a kid whose own mother didn't love her enough to stay. But all these years later I know that isn't how the situation actually played out. Their divorce wasn't my fault. My mother's love for me isn't easily understood by me or anyone else. People have flaws. Myself included.
But now that it's all said and done I realize I wasn't a motherless child. Even though they didn't give birth to me, they were all three mothers to me. They all loved me and helped me through my life. If I had truly been alone I wouldn't be able to feel such pointed sorrow right now. I guess it is better to have loved and lost than to have never felt that love at all. I'm going to try to remember the good times, the times we laughed so hard we couldn't even talk...and when we went on crazy adventures together. When you're young, and even now, you never know when you might be building a memory that will stand the test of time, that you'll hold close in your darkest hour. That memory that might circulate in your brain over and over and over again and hopefully bring you some peace.
So as you continue to live your life, don't just go through the motions. Take time to say I love you. Make time for each other. Build your house with memories, and fill your heart with love. These are the things that matter.