The tearing pain of longing – 05/17/2023 – Mirian Goldenberg

“Are you going to leave me alone and helpless?”

“What do you mean alone and helpless? I’m just leaving to see my mother”, my husband reacted, not understanding my sadness.

I didn’t understand either. Why was I feeling so alone and helpless when I love being at home, reading, studying and writing?

“Failure”, I thought after 21 years of analysis.

Then I remembered that, when my mother left the house, I would ask her in tears: “Are you going to abandon me and leave me alone here at home, just with Dad, Carlos, Paulo and Nelson (my three brothers )?”.

I was feeling like the same 4-year-old girl and I soon understood why. I was longing for my mother’s embrace.

I wasn’t ashamed of being the same 4-year-old girl, because I knew that the tears of longing represented the deepest love I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I let the tears flow freely, like the day I almost died losing my mother.

It is such excruciating pain and at the same time so beautiful; it is such a sad sadness and also concrete proof of my ability to love and be loved. It’s the greatest legacy my mother left me: unconditional love.

Today my mother would be 96 years old. She left at 62. It’s been 34 years of a longing that still hurts.

She dreamed of having a girl after having two sons.

I was born to fulfill your dream.

I was glued to my mother: she was my only protection in a family with a lot of violence, hate, screams and fights.

I was so panicked that I couldn’t sleep. I waited to hear my father’s snoring to go to bed clinging to my mother. My sleepless nights are still true torture sessions. I can’t sleep without my mom’s hug.

I cry whenever I remember my mother moaning softly, “Ou vey iz mir! Ou vey iz mir!” I learned very early that the Yiddish wail that expressed my mother’s profound unhappiness meant, “Alas, poor me! Alas, poor me!” I cry just remembering her sad voice repeating “Ou vey iz mir! Ou vey iz mir!”, without any crumb of hope.

I only found out later that my mother tried to kill herself by taking an entire bottle of Valium mixed with other drugs. She was bedridden for a few months, paralyzed on the left side of her face. As I was a girl, I was told that she was sick because she mixed mango with milk. How can I stop crying?

At 16, I left home, but I never left my mother. She never left me.

She discovered an already advanced cancer, at the age of 60, and I dropped everything to take care of her during the two and a half years of the disease. I don’t know how I managed to have the strength and courage to take care of my mother until her last breath.

I had only one thought: how am I going to survive without my mother’s embrace?

I still feel guilty for not being able to save my mother from that family hell. I feel guilty for not being able to give her everything she most dreamed of having: a faithful husband and a happy family. I feel guilty for not being able to protect her from all that torture and pain and sadness.

I feel guilty for not having listened to his story, since childhood in Poland, later in Curitiba and Santos. It is my biggest regret.

I wanted to know your story so badly, I needed to know my story so badly.

The traumatic experiences of my childhood; my mother’s endless suffering; my father’s alcoholism, violence, and infidelity; the daily fights, screams and beatings; it was the explosive mixture that made me decide not to have children. I never felt capable of being a mother, because I remain the daughter who desperately seeks to be loved, cared for, protected and embraced.

On Mother’s Day, I cried because I couldn’t say anymore, “Mother dear, I love you, thank you so much for taking care of me.”

When I ask myself how I will manage to survive without my mother’s embrace, I answer to myself: writing, writing, writing… Learning to transform my excruciating pain into beauty, my fear into courage, my sadness into tears and my longing into love .

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