Recently, I have found myself thinking a lot about my mother. She is not deceased, although sometimes I think it might be easier if she were. Allow me to explain.
My mother is severely mentally ill and has been in varying degrees my entire life. She has not been “officially” diagnosed with specific mental disorders, but I believe she suffers from more than one. She is definitely depressed. I also believe her to be manic depressive, and she most certainly suffers from paranoid delusions. While we do not have a definitive name to put to her illness, I believe it quite accurate to say that anyone who goes months without washing their body or hair has issues in more ways than one! If I did not have any other way of knowing my mother is not all there mentally anymore, this one aspect alone would serve as sufficient proof.
When I was younger, my mother always looked immaculate. She took great pride in her dress and appearance. She took care of our home. She planted flowers each year. Pink petunias were her favorite. I still have difficulty looking at them without crying.
That is not to say that things were completely normal even as a young child. My mother was prone to fits of rage, and they were usually directed at me. Like the time when I was seven or eight years old, and she beat me with a switch until it left welts that stayed on my legs and bottom for several days. I had left a pair of sneakers outside (They cost about five dollars and my family was not poor.). Our dog chewed part of one of the shoes before I discovered they had been left out. There were other instances, but I am choosing not to think about those times right now.
The year I turned 16 definitely marked a turning point. That year began my mother’s descent into wherever she lives in her own mind now. It took her a few years to get there, but once she did, she has never come back, nor does she want to do so.
I tell people that I spent my 20’s getting over the first 20 years of my life. The truth is, though, I am not over it. My mother is lost to me. She did not go with me to the final fitting for my wedding gown. She was not there when my daughter was born. As a matter of fact, she was committed involuntarily to a mental hospital the day after she was born. My mother has only seen my daughter twice, and she is now 6 1/2 years old. Those times were only because Mom showed up at family functions when she knew we would be there.
Fortunately, my daughter does not remember those encounters. She was too young. The last time was when she was three. She asked me a few weeks ago if my mother was still alive. I told her that yes, my mother was alive, but she is sick and is not able to see us. That seemed to satisfy her, but I know there will come a time when I will have to explain in further detail. It will be difficult for her to understand. I am 37 years old, and I still do not understand it myself.
For reasons beyond my comprehension, God has not chosen to heal her. I know He can, but I do not know if He will. I try to take comfort in His promise in Psalm 27:10 “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (NIV) And as a new email friend reminded me, He promises in Psalm 68:5 to be “a father to the fatherless.” (NIV) She said she believes, and I agree with her, that this also includes a mother to the motherless.
He is my heavenly Father and has loved me with an everlasting love. I need desperately for him to fill that space where my mother should be. The wound is still open. It is like the cut that is nearly healed and is then reinjured and feels open and raw all over again. It feels that way right now.
I sent her a small Christmas gift this year although I am unsure why. The last time I sent her a Christmas gift, I found out later she had given it away. I bought her an electric blanket because she would not run the heat in her home. I felt bad for her and did not want her to be cold. She, however, thought the controller would somehow take over her mind and gave it away.
Still, she has been on my mind, and while Christmas shopping this year, I saw a bag of lemon drops. I remembered that they were always her favorite. I boxed them up, enclosed a short note letting her know that I thought of her when I saw them, and that I was praying for her healing.
I did not do this with any expectations. Still, there was this small part of me, that part deep down that needs a mother, that hoped it might elicit some sort of response. None has been forthcoming, and I doubt that any will.
So instead, I will look up, continuing to hope and pray that if it is not God’s will that my mother be healed this side of heaven, that He will fill me with Himself until the day when I see her once again planting those pink petunias.
(I certify that this is my original writing and has not been previously published except on my own blog. I give Proverbs 31 ministries permission to use this article in its magazine, promotion of same, as well as all other facets of its ministry. Word count is 928.)