In Her Time of Dying: What Is and What Will Never Be

Six Feet Under is one of my favorite T.V. Shows in the history of everything forever. It is, to date, one of the most brilliantly written and acted shows I’ve ever seen – and the series finale? I honestly do not think any series will ever come up with anything as perfect as the Six Feet Under finale.

Josh and I watch the entire series from start to finish about once a year. We do the same with OZ, and we watch Firefly even more often than that. After my mom died, I found myself wondering when I’d be ready to tackle another viewing of Six Feet Under. The subject was something that was somewhat sensitive to me where it hadn’t been before. We tried to watch an episode shortly after mom died and I had to turn it off. I just couldn’t deal with death in any form – even if it was the death of a fictional character on a television show.

Josh suggested it a few weeks ago when we found ourselves with nothing to watch. I agreed, and was happy to find that I was able to watch without any huge problems. We’ve been making our way through the series and as I was finishing up an episode after Josh had gone to bed, I was stricken with a very sudden and very fresh sense of grief. The scene that got me was one between two main characters on the show – Claire and her mother, Ruth. They were sharing an emotionally vulnerable moment – one that was unexpected, tender, loving, and sweet. I watched Claire, who has always been very hostile verbally and closed-off emotionally, reach out to her mother in a gesture of acceptance and understanding. The two characters connected in a way that I imagine only a mother and daughter can, and the tears started to roll down my cheeks. Words began to roll through my brain, over and over, until they became a sort of sorrowful, aching chant.
I want a mother.
I want a mother.
I want a mother.
I want my mother.

The painful realization that I never truly had what those characters on-screen had and never, ever would hit me in the face like it has a hundred times since my mother’s death and all I could do was pause the show and cry. The sense of grief and mourning was so fresh it took me by surprise. It has been 6 months (to the day) since my mother died, and still the grief takes me by surprise.

I cried more that evening as my sad little mantra repeated itself in my head again and again. In a way, I suppose that I’m going through two grieving processes: I am grieving the loss of the mother that I did have, and I am also grieving the loss of the mother that I didn’t – and never will – have.

I’m grieving a relationship that cannot be mine, no matter how badly I want it or how hard I cry. It doesn’t matter how many mother figures I surround myself with – none of them will ever be able to give me what my mom could have, if only things had been different. If she had been different. Cultivating a relationship with my daughter is wonderful and will help lessen my pain, I am sure, but the mother-daughter relationship is something I will never be able to experience on the daughter’s end. These harsh revelations come at me from time to time; unexpectedly, viciously, and knock me off my feet with the severity of the pain they make me feel. I am learning to just accept them as they come, allow myself to feel them and to cry and to be angry. I am teaching myself to own my pain and accept it as something I will live with forever; to validate it and not stuff it back down inside of me to fester and rot.

It’s a slow process, one that I’m still trying to figure out. Maybe one day I will be able to accept with peace the loss of what is and what will never be, but for now it hurts, and it sucks. There’s no other way to put it. It just sucks.