Written in Cologne, Germany on March 5th, 2018
He was not mad or anything like that, he just seemed to understand me… and that was what surprised and shocked me.
It all begins in 1995, when my parents first met. Three months after their first meeting, my mom became pregnant with my older brother, Paul. Even though no one thought they could make it, my parents set out to begin the typical family life. In 2001, five years after Paul was born, I set my small feet on this planet. A little, happy, redhead girl, who had no idea what life would be like.
In movies life seems to be like a fairytale, where everybody has a perfect family and grandparents who spoil their grandchildren, but pretty soon I realized that life is not like that.
Not a single person expected this, but two weeks after my first birthday, my mom died. I realised this reality little by little, and the older I got the more it stung.
Facing the truth was like taking a bandage off very slowly.
One and a half years after my mother passed away, my dad met a new woman. She was not my biological mother though, and I had a hard time accepting her. When my younger brother David was born in 2004, my world kind of broke apart. Now there was another kid in the family, who my “step mother” would love more than me. Everything David did was okay but as soon as I did something wrong, I got in a lot of trouble.
On a really rainy Saturday, when I was 15, my dad and I were painting the guest room in our house and I started talking about my mom. I never did that before. I always considered my dad’s reaction before I spoke, but that day, my words and questions just spilled out...
My dad stood there with his mouth slightly open, silently staring at me. His face is surprised and concerned.
On that rainy day I finally asked my dad: “Why do you think life hates me so much that it doesn’t even allow me to get to know my own mom?” I tried to let it sound like a joke and not as big of a deal, but he knew that I had meant what I said. He asked why I would think that.
My thoughts poured.
Everybody got to know my mother before she died, and I can not even remember how she talked, walked, or just what kind of a person she was.
I started crying like a waterfall. Everything I kept inside for so long just came out. I could feel my mascara running down my cheeks and my eyes turning red. My dad closed his arms around me, holding me closer than ever. We just stood there, father comforting daughter, listening to the rain bouncing off the windows. A feeling of calm was trying to succeed my completely washed off makeup and runny nose. Words streamed out of my dad’s opening mouth: “You might not remember her now and in your head you might not be able to picture her, but deep inside you definitely remember her.”
“When you were little, you always waited for her to come home from work, sitting beside the window. After your mom passed away, I had to witness how you tortured yourself for three months, waiting for her every evening and expecting her to come home.”
I swallowed my tears and said quietly “but she never did.”
For a few minutes it was as silent as death in the room, until my dad finally mustered up the courage to say “But you have a wonderful mom who loves you more than anything!”
I thought he was lying and I told him so. I said that my new mom would never accept me as her own and that she loves her “real” kids more than me. He just rolled his eyes. “Do you really think so? Do you think she really loves them more even after everything she did for you? After every heart attack she had when she could not find you? After every mental breakdown she got when you talked about how much you miss your own mom? Or after every goodnight kiss she gave you? Do you really think she is just pretending to love you? She undertook a lot to make you happy. It was not easy for her either–to be a good mom for you–knowing that you could never love her as much as you loved your real mom… think about that!”
His words left me speechless. I was shocked. Shocked about how those simple words shone a light into an entire new way of thinking. I realized that even though my biological mother was gone, I did have a person who was always there for me. She was not simply a mother. She was, is, and always will be my real mother.
Maybe you need to ask uncomfortable questions sometimes. Maybe you just need to let everything out to get over it and move on.
I will never completely get over my mom’s death, but this rainy day conversation opened my eyes. It showed me that you have to look around to really see what is going on. Living in the past will not be your friend; live in the here and now, and make the best out of it.
The perfect mom I had wished for almost my entire life was always there, waiting for me to spot.