There are some days when I wake up and my inner 19-year-old is in charge. I feel great, full of energy, and ready to take on the world.
Today isn’t one of those days.
Today I woke up feeling the weight of every one of my 68 and a half years. It’s cold and overcast, and my arthritis is responding with a flare-up in my thumb that makes it difficult to write.
As far as “It Gets Better” goes, it’s on these days that I ask, “When?”
They’re the days I think of my hopes and dreams. Some were shattered, some abandoned, some abandoned, and many came true.
One of the best came true when I was able to fulfill a promise my 17-year-old self made. It was when I first heard Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” I promised that if I ever had a daughter, that would be her name. When I was 25, I made true on that promise. Okay, so I added an extra letter; I thought “Suzzanne” was a better name for the little girl I knew would become a remarkable woman.
Which she has indeed become. Far more remarkable than I could have imagined.
Another dream was fulfilled when our second daughter was born, giving my parents their second grandchild.
She, alas, doesn’t remember her grandmother, who died when Steffani was 4. 36 years ago today, as a matter of fact.
My Annual Day of Mourning
Dec 12 of each year is when I sit down in my chair, sip my tea, and wonder. What would my life be like today had she lived? Would she still love the son who became her daughter?
She was a remarkable woman, my mother. The wife of a minister, she more than my father showed me what it meant to be a Christian.
Sadly, she also bequeathed to my brothers and I her life-long depression. My father once told me that she told him many times “If I didn’t have those children, I would kill myself.”
That, more than anything else, tells me just how much she loved us.
And maybe mourning isn’t the right word. Rather, call it wondering.
How would she react to me? Or her great grandchildren, one of whom is starting out on the same journey I am on?
Hope For the Next Generation
Chloe-now-Cole is developing into a fine young lad. He’s sure to face problems along the way, many of which I’ve already dealt with.
And while I can’t say I have a favorite grandchild, Cole is one of the reasons I no longer consider suicide. He needs me, as I need him. And while I do tell him from time to time that it does indeed get better, I also tell him that it often doesn’t happen as soon as it’s needed.
So Yes, it Does Get Better
Maybe not all at once, or easily. But on balance, my own life has gotten better because of my mother.
And that’s why I know that were she still here today, she would love and accept her daughter just as she once loved her son.
Helen Jane Sheppard (nee Stevens)
Thanks for reading.