Today is my mother’s birthday. She would be 81 had she not died in 1985 just two month’s prior to her 48th. It is hard for me to picture what she might look like at 81. I’ve seen my father age to (now) 82 and the difference is pretty dramatic compared to photos from the last year of my mom’s life.
Before I began talking about my mother’s suicide, my memories of her were very flat, based on the real or imagined photos I was left with of specific moments and events. When I did open up, she came back to life in my mind in a way. The memories I had became more three dimensional, and many that had been packed away returned.
I then began placing her in current-day situations and conversations to get a sense of what she might say or do, how she would react to world events, or her thoughts about my life – personally and professionally. In all these scenarios everyone else is present-day, while she remains in looks, energy, and attitude, the 1985 Debbie Golden, or my version of her. My mom is forever 47.
It’s a little odd to think about since I’m now a bit older than that, but a mother is always a mother so even if I get to be 81, that beautiful young woman I’m hanging out with in my mind will still be mom – forever loved and missed.