When a loved one dies, it can really be: crazy, painful, strange, is-this-really-happening kind of experience or all of the above. Some people don’t feel anything. Some people feel sadness. And almost immediately, we begin to talk about them in a saintly way, as though all the things they ever did or said that maybe weren’t as nice never happened.

Last night while cleaning more of my parents boxes, I found a letter my mom wrote “to me”. It was really one of those venting notes you should probably throw away after you’re writing it so that when you die no one finds it, lol. Written on the back of bank teller slips and dated by the receipt it was bookmarked with. I won’t go into details of what it said verbatim, but the gist was at some point as 17 year old, I must have been giving my mom a hard time about something, and she expressed how I had no idea how hard life could be and one day I would find out how hard it is to put shelter over your head and food on the table. A mess of other things were said and I left being reminded that my mom was, well, a human.

Whenever I miss my mom, my first thoughts are usually of positive things like dancing to Elton John’s Crocodile Rock while still attached to her chemo and drug post with wheels she called a different woman’s name every day in her room at UPenn… or how she made me spaghetti when I was little and I twirled around the living room in pure joy at the fact that she let me eat in the den only to spin every piece of starch onto the floor… how she tucked me in and kissed me goodnight every day. These and a hundred thousand other things run through my my mind when I think of my mom and I’m lucky that so much of those memories are good ones. But sometimes there are these other memories that creep in that remind you that perhaps your mom wasn’t a saint, but she was a good mom. A mom who loved you and who took care of you and did everything they could so that you could have a good, comfortable life.

I appreciate her. And yeah, she is on a pedestal, as she should be. I think all good mothers should step up and stay there. What a hard job it must be that I completely don’t understand. Perhaps someday.