Saturday, April 5, 2008

Conni (Butler) Blanks (4/5/41 - 10/1/05)

Today would have been my mother's 67th birthday.

It has been over two years since she died, and I have come to terms with her death as best as I can imagine I will ever be able to.

Coming from a much older family than most, I have seen a lot of death in my extended family since I was very young. So, death of a loved one was nothing new to me. But nothing really prepares you for the loss of a parent -- even when it is somewhat "expected," as it was with my mother.

That said, in an odd way, I am a much happier person now than I was when she was alive.

By no means am I happy that my mother died. It would be disingenuous, however, to say that her death has not led to me being a happier person.

It has nothing to do with my mother herself or my relationship with her. (Since I developed into an adult, our relationship was good -- although far from ideal.) Rather, going through the emotional pain of her death granted me perspective not unlike an epiphany.

For the purposes of sharing this with the world, I wish I could provide concrete examples of how my life is better now as a result, but I really can't. It basically boils down to taking more in stride, not letting petty things affect me, and getting my priorities straight in my personal life.

Some friends have called this personal change "maturity"; others have called it "wisdom." I suppose they are both right, to some degree, but I don't think either term really encompasses such a change in my outlook.

From an personal perspective, I am less serious than I was before she died -- somewhat undercutting the "mature" comments. Furthermore, some of my decisions that I have made -- particularly recently -- have not been "wise" in the sense I would advise others to imitate them. If anything, I have been more likely to shirk conventional wisdom in my own life -- and somehow I'm happy about it.

Of course, I dearly miss my mother. I wish she wasn't alone when she died and that I could have been she would have let me be there for her. I don't physically reach for the phone when I want to ask her a question, but the thought still crosses my mind. I wish she would have been able to see me finally graduate from college and make it out to D.C. to work at a place I love. I wish she could have seen me published in non-school newspapers and magazines. I wish she could have seen me happy...which I don't think she ever got to see.

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