Written By Guest Blogger- Amber Marie Hoonhorst
I think of her as soon as I wake up, those groggy daze before my first sip of coffee. It is her ghost inside me, feeding her addictions from beyond the grave. The way I do my hair and make-up mimics my earliest memories of her. There was a time when I looked at her so much in hopes that my gaze would somehow transform me into looking just like her. I remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub while she stationed herself in front of the mirror for hours. My eyes glued to the movements of her arms as she brushed and styled her long golden-blond hair. The way she looked at herself in the mirror, determined to find perfection. It was as if she were an artist that was creating a masterpiece. As I inhaled the thick polluted air from her hairspray, it cemented my soul with admiration and the desire to look just like her. Everything I know of beauty is from looking at my mother.
Ironically, the possession begins when my mouth goes on auto-pilot. When my tongue is engulfed with her sharp words that my brain doesn’t dare attempt to intervene. Her harsh delivery and dialect catches me off guard as it projects out of me, as if it were my basic instinct, as if I were her.
There were parts of her that weren’t beautiful.
I only wanted to be the shell of my mother. You see, she was constantly fighting something, something that I didn’t know until she passed. It was a dark traumatic battle that she kept buried inside for so long that it consumed her and became a part of her and a part of me. It was a part of her that I resented and I tried to purge it out of me but her presence was too dominant to not be influenced. She never won her battle, but she didn’t know how strong it had made her either, how strong it made me. I never appreciated her strength like I do now, now that I know, now that she is gone.
The fear of hating my mother before she died evaporated when the despair of living the first second after her last breath. Missing her has made me feel it necessary to be her. All of her. I see her in my reflection now and I never had before. I embrace the moments she possess me instead of denying it as what I thought was her weakness. My own voice softly breaks through, reminding me that I am not her. And the weight of her loss starts from the beginning and I grieve her all over again.
I want her back so badly sometimes that I blame myself. Did I push her away by wanting my own identity? I would always associate myself with a monster for anticipating her absence. Thinking I could finally be myself if she were gone. She conditioned me to be her and I inwardly retaliated by suppressing any part of me that was. She never knew who I really was, and I didn’t either. We both never knew how much of her I am. Now that she is gone, I don’t even know who I am without her, all I know of me is who she was. Because being her is the closest thing to having her here. I thought I could be stronger than her by being nothing like her, untouchable from her influence. I pondered thoughts that she couldn’t even comprehend. I found happiness when she couldn’t. But now I feel abandoned, like a lost child looking for her in every cell that makes up my body, frantically searching for anything that resembles her. The first similarities I find are the ones that I tried to hide. If I can resurrect them, maybe I will feel closer to her. In the moments that I need my mother, I wait for her voice to echo into my consciousness and speak to me.
I tried so hard to figure her out, only so I could make my own blueprint contrast to hers. Now I find comfort in the familiarity of a layout I know, hoping it will guide me to her. When I do find her, I continue to see light in what I once thought was her darkness. I do not want to lose anything else when it comes to her, including myself. And although I am still making sense of her, she is the only clarity I have ever known.
-Amber Marie Hoonhorst