I’ve been putting this off. I wanted to be in a better and stronger head space. I wanted to write this with my head held high. I wanted to make her proud.
The truth is my shoulders are slumped as I write through my tears. I’m riddled with guilt, and I’m overcome with shame.
I let my mom down.
There is no shortage of reasons for the guilt nor the shame.
I shouldn’t have moved out of state… I should’ve visited more often… I should have known she was sick… I should’ve taken her out of that horrible hospital sooner…. I should’ve given her a better memorial service… I should’ve found a way to keep her house.
Yeah, that last one. That last one has me begging her for forgiveness. I find myself mumbling, “I tried, mom, I tried.”
My mom was so proud of me. Not “a mom is proud of her kid” proud. It was more like “a mom is proud of her rocket scientist kid” proud except that I’m not a rocket scientist.
All this high praise for her daughter must have really sucked for my brother (I’m sorry, bro.) and it must have been incredibly annoying for my cousins.
She recited my resume of accomplishments so often that it made me uncomfortable. I moved out of state seven years ago, but I knew the bragging was constant. I knew this because she told me.
You see, my mom put me on the highest of all pedestals. So, to fail at this, the one thing she wanted most, the one thing she wanted to leave to family… To say I’m shattered is an understatement of the highest order.
Nana Gloria’s house
This wasn’t the house I grew up in. It was Nana Gloria’s house, the house my kids grew up in. The backyard that my kids played in. The backyard with all the plants from Home Depot and wall hangings from Mexico. The kitchen with all the magnets on the fridge. The pantry with almost every conceivable flavored coffee. The Arizona room where she hosted my baby shower. The Arizona room where I told her I was getting a divorce because my first marriage had fallen apart, and I needed her help.
And there was the fountain in the back patio. When my kids were little, my mom got a kick out of letting them get completely soaked in their diapers from playing in the fountain water and then handing them over to me.
Two days before she died, she told us to make sure to let her “babies” – her great-grandchildren – play in the fountain. Let them get wet in their diapers and take pictures, she instructed. The day after her memorial service, we did just that.
Trying to save my mom’s house made me sick. Literally, sick. I had insomnia. Then came the panic attacks. I started scream-crying when I was alone and silently scream-crying in bed when my husband was asleep. I punished myself with food and guilt.
This was over the course of six months. Meanwhile, the bills were piling up. The mortgage company wanted an answer. Buy it, sell it, or we take it, they said.
We chose to sell it.
Losing another piece of my mom
We just couldn’t afford it. The loan had to be big enough to pay off the mortgage, pay off all of my mom’s creditors, and pay out equity shares to my stepdad, to me and to my brother. There was also a matter of my mom’s ex-husband who potentially still had a claim to some equity in the house. (This last scenario ended up being moot, but it wasn’t cleared up for months.) And then there was Aqua Finance. They convinced my mom to buy a $12k shower when she was sick (she just didn’t know it yet) and then put a lien on her house after being notified of her death. There was also a chance that the house wouldn’t appraise high enough.
The morning of Christmas Eve, I got the call. My mom’s house had sold. It was so… final.
I sat there, in my daughter’s home office in Texas, silently scream-crying. The pain of losing another piece of my mom was almost unbearable. I finally composed myself enough to call my brother and then my stepdad to let them know.
I then had to walk into the next room and tell my kids. Nana Gloria’s house was gone.
I don’t think I need to go into details here so let’s just leave it at that.
I tried, mom. I tried. Please forgive me.
Soy hija de Gloria. Hija de guerrera. Esta es la historia de mi mamá. Y también mi terapia.
I’m Gloria’s daughter. Daughter of a warrior. This is my mom’s story. And my therapy.