On the way home from my mother's funeral I heard Sarah McLachlan's song "Arms of the Angels". I'm not sure of the song's original meaning or purpose, nor the songwriter's intent. I don't follow music enough to know if it was actually someone's drug-induced hallucination or a tribute to their best friend. I don't care. In my mind and heart it will always be my mother's song.
I heard the song often the year Mom died, and it always brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I had to turn off the radio or risk not being able to drive. But over the course of time I got to the point of being able to sing it. I even bought Sarah's CD. After nine years, I would have told you yesterday morning that the song has lost it's power, that it no longer brings back the ache and longing. But last night a young woman on America's Got Talent proved me wrong.
I wasn't even really watching the show. The young singer isn't one of my favorites (sorry honey) so I had gone to the kitchen to wash a few dishes. Then the first words of the song, mother's song, drifted into the kitchen and I suddenly found myself standing in front of the TV with a dish towel in my hand and tears running down my cheeks.
Ironic that on my favorite show, House, they've been discussing the issue of death and the pain of losing someone you love. The raw pain, the debilitating emotions, ease over time. They are pushed to the back of our brains and life goes on. But the ache, the longing for the presence of that person, is always there and the slightest trigger can bring out a deeper pain, a fresh memory.
Fall was my mother's favorite time of year. September 30 was her birthday. Heritage Day was one of her favorite events. Thanksgiving was the first holiday we had without her. These are the days and weeks that are the most difficult for me each year. These are the days with memories of my mother just beneath the surface, ready to produce a warm happy thought or a stabbing pain to the heart.
My biggest regret regarding my mom isn't that I wasn't by her side when she died. No, I thank God for that. I don't think I could keep that image at bay. If I had witnessed it I think my grief would have been even more prolonged. No, what I regret is that we didn't talk much during that last year. Oh, we spoke. But because she was sick and didn't drive, and because I was going to college and very busy, we didn't have a lot of "alone" time. Dad was always around. Mom was tired. I was stressed. Friends and family were in and out. We didn't have a lot of mother-daughter time. There are things I wish I had asked her, things I wish I knew. Now it's too late, because she's in the arms of the angels.