I posted about this on my Facebook already, but I feel it deserves a blog post. Mostly because I can't stop crying uncontrollably and I don't think I've written it all out there yet.
I was talking with a friend two nights ago. I mentioned Syd Barrett and she had no clue who that was. Naturally that wasn't okay. I am like the informal ambassador of the Pink Floyd Church. I proceeded to tell her the sad story of the tortured mind, I told her about Gilmour and Rogers, I went on the whole background. Pink Floyd to me is a necessity in my life, and something I could talk about for ages. And just as my eyes glazed over and I (arguably having the most fun conversing with someone as I've had in awhile) she asked in a very impressed and flattering, almost admiring way, "...how the hell do you know all of this stuff?"
Cue the flood of memories that came back. It's been like that--while standing at the oven I will suddenly see my mother standing at ours, while watching a movie I can suddenly hear her commentary crystal clear from ten or fifteen years ago, while listening to music I can see her playing piano and singing like she did at least twice a week for her band. But this time was special and different, because it was my mother teaching me about Pink Floyd that all came surging back to me, an entire brickyard full of memories.
She adored the band. She thought they were the coolest band ever with their sound effects and artsy if raunchy lyrics. She'd seen them in concert. When I was almost a little too young, she let me watch The Wall and I was instantly hooked, so she filled my head with the stories of how the concerts were and she explained some of the album's meaning to me. We even had a few of the same favorite songs from it. She had a songbook of the entire Wall and she gave it to me to use while learning piano. Most of the early songs I learned were from that songbook, which I carried around until the edges fell apart and it was a collection of mismatched pages while the exact memory of every song was ingrained into my little pianist's brain. She even had to talk me out of playing and singing "Comfortably Numb" at a talent show, citing the fact that I was the only 10 year old mature enough to get a song about drugs and depression, while my classmates and their families would be sitting there listening in entranced horror.
I've never thanked her for having that impact on my life. Pink Floyd has gotten me through god knows how many long nights of sadness, has been the first band I turn to after a breakup or when things get rough; I've fallen asleep to the Wall for over a decade now. I never let her know just how appreciative I was that she taught me about one of the arguably most fascinating rock groups of all time. There are so many things about who I am that I never realized, are influenced by her. We had so much time to hate, so much time to judge each other and snap at each other and ignore each other and have passive-aggressive phone calls, and not once did I ever tell her that I was thankful for Pink Floyd or anything. She probably would've said something rude or brushed off the compliment anyway, but the point stands. I didn't try.
And that wasn't the hardest thing so far. I can at least be glad that I have these positive links to my mother and know that she passed something down to me, even if our relationship was horrible. I haven't mentioned it on this blog, but I sent her a Christmas card from Sweden. It was half a joke--my parents throw away anything with my name on it--but half sincere, because I just...I don't know. I feel better when I do things like that. I didn't expect any word from them, of course, how could they? I was in Sweden.
Ariel told me, after my mom's death, she went to their house and my card was hanging up on the doorway like all the others they'd gotten. I lost it at this. For one, what if they had wanted to contact me? No way to do it. They don't have email. I've been in another country for a year. What if my mom had wanted to talk to me?
And the other thing is...I'm 26. She was 52. We should have had many more years together. I don't know that we could have worked our problems out. If we did, it would have always been uncomfortable. But imagine how things could have been when I turned 40. Imagine if I got to live to be forty years old and still have a mom who is alive. I've been warned against thinking this but fuck that, I can't stop thinking about it. My aunt Doris, my mom's sister, had congestive heart failure and several heart attacks and insane diabetes, and she still lived to be almost 65 years old. A whole decade more than my mom.
That's the hardest thing. Knowing that she put up my card, that I was on her mind at Christmas time when she was thinking of all her other kids, and while I was hanging up the ornaments and being so festive and telling Henri excitedly about all my favorite traditions and crediting her, rightfully, of being the one to inspire such Yule cheer in me.