I say this with no confirmation as getting it would be impossible at this point, but my mother may have passed her mental health issue on to me. Genetics play a crucial factor in our wellbeing. That’s a scientific fact. Heart issues run in my father’s side of the family. I have one. Nothing major, but it’s there. On my mother’s side, well, that’s one where nothing can ever be known. My mother’s family is a black hole to me, unfortunately.
After my mother’s funeral, her whole family cut ties with us. I don’t know why, but I can speculate. Her sister, whom I assume she was close with, blames my father for my mother’s suicide. We’ve tried reaching out the only way we can: by leaving our contact info to the caretaker of the Marcelo mausoleum to give to the Aunt that is a stranger to me. I may have passed her, or anyone from my mother’s family, on the street and I’d never know it.
How do you reach out to kin who doesn’t want anything to do with you? I have a million questions about them. I have a million questions for them about my mother. What was she like in her youth? What was her academic life like? What ticked her off? What music was she into? Did her talent for painting start when she was a teenager?
I want to know them. I want to be able to consider them as family because that’s what they are, regardless of a tie that was severed decades ago. They’re my blood. I’m their blood. I want them to get to know me and see that I am/was just like their beloved Arlene. And that I’m battling and surviving the illness that took made her take her own life.
My mother has always been a mystery to me. Even with the stories I was told, I can’t fully grasp who or what she was. All I have are theories that I base from those stories and from my own depression. Merely scattered post-it notes that can’t write the whole story.
On her death anniversary this year, I have finally closed the book on the circumstances surrounding my mother’s death. But that book isn’t the only story. There are still others. Other books that only her kin can write. And I may never be able to read them.
So what brought all this on? Why am I suddenly dealing with my obvious mommy issues? Well, aside from feeling the need to now, her death is still a specter looming over me.
It suddenly hit me a few weeks ago, and I confirmed on my last therapy, that I’ve been rushing my recovery. I’ve been rushing life and I’ve been doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do but never got to because of the depression. I thought I was just compensating for all the years I missed out on, for the life I never got to live. Yes, and there’s one more crucial motivation.
My mother died when she was 32. I’m 31. I’ve been rushing my recovery before my 32nd birthday on November. I want to be a hundred percent depression free by then.
Her fate isn’t mine. Her life, her death, isn’t mine. I know that. I’m aware of that. I’m aware that I can’t rush the process. I’m aware that I can’t rush life. Doing so would be reckless. Irresponsible. I’d only hurt myself and others in a completely different way. I look back at my intense depression episodes and remember where my head was in those times. I was in the darkness again. I was in prison again. I was the monster again. I sometimes think about the next intense depression episode and wonder if that battle is the one where I’d finally lose.
I’d often have these dreams about my mother. She wasn’t in them, as far as I can remember my dreams, but the dreams were about her. I’d wake up and get that feeling that it was about her. In that dream, I’m in a house. A mansion, rather. And there’s a room in there that no one dares to go into. I’d go near the door and I’d feel a cold emptiness, and then heat. In most of the dreams about that mansion, I didn’t go in. Whether it was out of fear or shame, I never had the courage to reach for the doorknob, open it, and step in. In another dream, I managed to summon up the courage to.
The room is dank and is both bare and full. It has objects that I think belongs to her. Nameless and shapeless objects with unknown providence. Perhaps my subconscious’ way of filling the gaps of my memories of her. The most prominent feature of that room aren’t the objects. It’s not the faceless photographs hung on the wall. It’s not the centuries old chair facing south. It’s the humongous vault, floor to ceiling in height, and whenever I go near it, I step back in a fear that’s too primal, too powerful. And then I wake up. Every single time I have that dream and I’m face to face with that vault, I wake up. It still sends chills down to my spine whenever I think about it in my waking days.
That vault has never been opened until now. In the quest to make sense out of my horrid subconscious, I’ve associated that vault with my four years and three months worth of memories of her. Maybe it was never about the memories of her. Maybe it was never about the past. That’s what memories are, the past. The past that one relives over and over again.
Perhaps it’s about the future and what should still arise: the stories about her that needs to be written.
Looking back with clear eyes, I don’t think what looms over me isn’t the specter of my mother’s death anymore. As I said, that book’s done. It’s not her death that haunts me. What haunts me now is her life.