rage, rage

In the simplest of terms, my mother was a fighter.

Some people shrink away from life, leaving a small print.  Some people leave holes – large, empty spaces they once occupied.  You feel their absence, the way you feel pain.  It’s tangible, the mark they left on your life.  Understandably, that is the mark my mom’s absence has left on my life.  But more than that, it’s the impact she left on the lives of those she left behind.  Even today, I meet people who knew her, who remember her fondly, who feel her absence.

She’s everywhere, and yet she isn’t here.  I often find myself ready to call her, only seconds later realizing I still can’t do that.  I still can’t call, or text, or show up at work.  We can’t sing together on our long car rides into the city.  She can’t scare the living daylights out of me while we look for parking in DC.

I’m still struck by the fact that she won’t be here for my wedding.  She won’t be here when I have kids.  I realize it more now, I think, because I’m older.  When I was younger, after she first left, these things weren’t tangible.  I had no plans to get married or have kids.  Now, though, these are things I realize I want, and mom’s not here for me to talk about them with; she won’t be here when they happen, and I don’t know how I’m going to handle her absence when these things come along.

I wanted to share a poem that has reminded me more and more of my mother with each passing year.  I read it and think back to when she told me that she was going to take the chemo, even though the doctor told her she had a handful of months left with us.  I read it and think back to the night she left us, when she smiled the most beautiful smile, and took her final breath.  My mother did not go gentle into that good night; and her fight, her rage against death even when it was knocking at her door, inspires me even today.

I can handle anything life throws at me because, even though I feel her absence, I also feel her presence.  I feel her strength.  I feel her warmth.  I feel her all around me even though she isn’t here.  She’s my mother.  Her blood runs through my veins, and her spirit lives on in me.  She comforts me on nights when I feel most alone, and encourages me on days when I am down.

I will continue to miss her every day.  I will continue to grieve and feel her absence, but I will also cling to the songs and the poems that remind me of her the most.  I will laugh when I think of something funny she said, and I will cry when I need to.  I will go on in my own way, forging a path of my own.  I will continue to live, like I promised her I would.  Like my mother, I will not go gentle.  I will rage, rage, and I will live, live.

I love you, mama.  I miss you.  Thank you for teaching me the most important lessons, and for never leaving my side.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.