I said goodbye to my recently departed mother today. It was an emotional day to say the least. If I was writing this with pen and paper, there would be tear smudges everywhere. This way I am just running the risk of being electrocuted.
I jest because that’s how I deal with sadness. I hope that the many people that came to say their goodbyes to my mother today realize that my humour was a sign of emotional vulnerability, not some sociopathic tendency.
Yes, it was an emotional day. So many people that I have known for so long came to pay their last respects. So many people that I’ve lost touch with that loved my mom and by extension me. So many people that I’ve forgotten I loved. People that Zaga made part of our family.
So, who was this woman I called my mother? What was she like? As an adult I have spent many a year in intense introspection, trying to understand why I am the way I am. That kind of introspection always leads to childhood and a deep analysis of our parents and our relationship with them. So maybe I am the one that knew my mother the best. Maybe…
I will not write that she was a saint, one in a million, an angel without wings. I am no starry-eyed teenager. No, she was a human of flesh and blood, imperfect, unfinished, flawed. She had her angels and her demons, her virtues, and her faults. Just like the rest of us. Yet, in what is most telling about who my mother was, those that knew all her sides were crying harder than those who didn’t.
Because, you see, Zaga had many qualities. She was a peace maker, the great uniter, the social connector, gravitational giant, life-of-the-party mother hen. There were 2 things most characteristic of her: her quick, wide smile, and the company she kept. There were always people attached to our family, as far back as I can remember. Cousins, friends, children of friends, strangers who quickly became friends, young, old, rich, poor, any education level, any race, any nationality, any creed. All were drawn to Zaga and all were welcome in her circle. And somehow, they all became part of our extended family, always around through the years, always in orbit, always drawn to Zaga’s life energy. She was generous with her time, her money and with her emotions. She was quick to offer a compliment, a kind word, a helping hand, her attention. And while her virtues made her legendary, her faults made her human. And because of this people could relate to her and loved her even more.
And so today I saw grown people whom Zaga “adopted” when they were kids crying their eyes out for their godmother. I saw people that I have known for so long, shed tears like little kids because they lost someone who was less than a sister but more than a friend. I saw people who embraced me as if I was their flesh and blood when all we shared was my mother. And I saw my dad and my biological family with whom I’ve never felt closer.
This then was Zaga’s last act, to bring us all together one last time, and to remind us that we are more than casual acquaintances, that we have grown much deeper bonds, courtesy of this remarkable woman. I love you mom and I’ll miss you always.