My mother suddenly passed away when I was twenty five. I notice the digital clock in my car as I rush to the hospital. It reads 3:34. I am already too late. The next time I see my mother, there is no life in her flesh. The funeral casket is open on a pink puffy body that is not my mother.

They say she died of natural causes, but I don’t believe it. Her doctors discovered liver cancer two days before she died. My poor mother did not survive the biopsy. It’s supposed to be a minor operation. She’s only 50 years old. They say Liver Cancer is from anger. I think she died of a broken heart. When she was 40, my father and mother divorced. I think she never got over it. She always blamed the other woman, & never stopped loving my father.

Mom and I discuss the upcoming divorce on a road trip to the Continental Divide. I am sixteen. I just got my driver’s license. Mom wants me to practice driving on this mile high freeway. My palms are slippery on the scary cliffs as I give my mother advice. “I don’t understand your loyalty to Dad. He doesn’t want to be with you any more. Why hold onto a promise you both made so long ago. You both were so young. People change. Can’t you get over it? Find someone new? Someone who loves you?” I know nothing of my mother’s pain, her broken dreams, her Italian heritage, her loyalty to her family. 

Unlike my sisters, I never become a mother. First of all, the divorce separates me from my 16 year old FirstLove. Maybe that would have ended anyway. We were so young. I become a feminist. (Headband on.) I am proud to be liberated young woman, someone who can have it all. I am ProChoice and ProOrgasm, but I don’t believe in marriage. 

The year of my mother’s death, I am living a radical life in a Haight Ashbury commune in San Francisco. My mother’s family believes I am living in a sex cult. I never had a moment of guilt or a drop of shame for my lifestyle choices. My family did all that for me.

My mother’s sister probably still spews venom whenever she hears my name… which is sucks for her because I was named after her. We never made up after my mothers funeral. She was married at 18 and had 5 kids before she was 25. It must have been stressful. She was always yelling at somebody about something!  she was the 1st person in our family to get a divorce. Talk about anger issues! My mom’s funeral reception was at her house. From a distant room, I overhear her tell everyone within earshot that I killed my mother. When I hear it, I am in shock. I can’t breathe. I have to escape. I flee the family gathering.

A few days later, I am curled up in fetal position on my mother’s couch. Her spirit comes to me. A sparkling multicolored light surrounds me. I dissolve into an inter dimensional hug. I am washed in the greatest love that I have ever known. My face is wet. My tears are fresh and flowing down, to soothe my wounded heart. She wishes me farewell and her spirit ebbs away, returning to the mystery from whence she arrived. There, in the still ocean of my soul, I discover a place where all my mothers exist in an eternal garden of memory. I soar above an endless horizon of ladies, each one a daughter contemplating her mother, who is also a daughter contemplating HER mother, back and back disappearing out of sight. My mother appears many times, during many lives in this infinite space of ancestors. She takes her place again. Then there is only light.

Its been a long time since I’ve seen my mother in my dreams. I hope she has been reborn. There is a nephew of mine who I secretly believe is a candidate for her incarnation. I never mention my suspicions to him, but he has the look. A gesture here and there. He has her kindness, her intelligence. But when we see each other at holiday dinners at my sister’s house, I keep it to myself. I also suspect, but never mention, that the reincarnation of my father is probably their dog.

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