She: “Mom I’m making a toy at school. It’s a project. I’m making a robot alien”
Me: “That’s so cool, babe. What are you going to call it?”
Recently, my daughter’s been dreaming a lot about my mother. She has incredible grandparents on her dad’s side (the best!) and an amazing set of extended family. But, I’ve always mentally underplayed the role of my own parents in her life. Why? Because my dad wasn’t here for her growing up and my mother was only here for just under five years of it (thanks cancer, you really know how to mess up my folks’ plans of a dynasty… which they ended up having, but aren’t here to see it).
I realise now that this is an error. Family ties aren’t based on time spent, but rather on connection. And the woowoohead part of me thinks that my daughter actually misses my mom, and my mom is, well, making herself evident.
These incidents were few and far between in the years after my mom’s death. We’d openly chat about my mom, her illness and her journey but I imagined that these conversations would fade over time. They did, for about a year but now, over the past few months, the opposite has occurred. As time has grown longer and my own ability to assimilate feeling like an orphan in the world has minimised, my daughter’s need for her maternal grandmother has grown.
Obviously, real life isn’t able to give her that, so it’s coming out in strange places — her dreams, her projects and, I imagine, her writing. She writes a lot, a lot more than you or I realise. I find it semi-comforting that she’s finding an avenue of peace through words, even if they’re little scrawls in notebooks or fantastic stories she pieces together. There’s a sanity to be found in that world that is peaceful, if you can get past the madness of word-mangling.
That is where my mother found her peace too, in the last years of her life. It’s where my father had found his for years. It’s where I find mine.
But somehow, no matter how much I write or create, or write towards them, I know I can’t bring them back to life. My daughter is, I think, reaching for them too, in her own particular way.
Is it grief that does this? Or is it acceptance? Either way, it is an avenue of healing that she is determined to integrate into her life (or it is being determined for her). I do know that my mother would, and could always, make herself heard. She would “speak the words” so that others would have to “hear the words”. Most of her life, she spoke them for the sake of someone else who did not have a voice.
Perhaps this is her, speaking them for herself. Speaking them to her granddaughter.