Monday, October 8, 2018

Mom Let Me Love Horror

Never seen before by me picture of my mom until recently.

In 1989, I was a sprite seven years deeply hooked on the strange, imaginative spaces of genre cinema. Having a young, uncoiled mom afforded me the opportunities to 'just happen' to be in the living room while she watched questionably legal/video store rental copies of Poltergeist, Beetlejuice, Hellraiser, and so many more with the magic of a VHS record button and HBO. Those moments were hypnotic. Sometimes frightened but always fascinated, my mother noticed my resilience so took me downtown where in Philadelphia during this period was a twinkle of 1970's Times Square to see Ghostbusters 2. It was friendly enough, not-horror for the both of us to enjoy without any discomfort. It was an experience I'll never forget; one, because Bobby Brown had a cameo and you could not avoid his mega-star status and two, those Titanic ghosts creeped me the fuck out!

At my fifth birthday gathering.

We continued to go to the movies for awhile until two more children and the demands of raising all three of us and work really slowed down her ability to fully enjoy life. Having to adult and maintain ones sanity simultaneously is extremely stressful, and it had only been in the last 12-15 some odd years of her life that I started to see some glimmer again. Battling her own demons, learning to forgive, comforted by the fact that all of her children were legal adults and embracing being a Nana gave us the ability to re-connect via our quirky, nerdy nature and love for horror. Out of my angsty teens and oddly rebellious twenties, I grew up and developed a close bond with her. I learned how to communicate a little bit better, be emotionally supportive, taking the critical jabs she offered as room for growth, and in turn, delivered them back in a reasonable manner. But more than that, we were back on our bullshit like Dorothy and Sophia. We talked movies, pop culture, our crappy jobs, whatever sparked a need to ramble or simply just to make each other laugh after a stressful day. Me and my mom have always been tight, but as an adult, I did that thing psychiatrists talk about where you start to see your parent as a person and not a small deity.

Mom back from a San Francisco business trip for UPenn Hospital. A long time ago obvs.

My mother losing her life to heart disease this year was an experience for me that cannot be encompassed by any adjective that exists. All the trials and emotions that come with grief have overwhelmed me for weeks and have made it extremely difficult to find a new way to navigate the world. I wasn't even sure I could write something about her and how much of an impact her support for everything I've been able to accomplish (everything) has been monumentous to my well-being. And that's the kind of person she was: selfless. She put herself before others constantly, sometimes to her detriment. And when she did allow me to experience her vulnerability, I would like to think I was the anchor she needed to stay afloat until the next circumstance consumed her. It goes without saying that she wasn't perfect, but she was definitely a beautiful person who always took on responsibility, even if it scared her. That spirit of being able to face your fears and come out a survivor is that kind of attitude I have, without a doubt, inherited from her.

Honestly, the only reason I keep pushing each day is because she did not and would not want me to give up. And isn't this some of the core elements that keep popping up in these wild films we love so much? My accelerated heartbeat pondering on what was in the shadows after watching demons, ghosts, and objects come to life but getting up and walking through that darkness anyway. And right now, not being able to see, chat with, hear her laugh, or even hug her again is pretty freaking dark. I'm hoping I can walk through this and come out a teensy bit stronger.

I'm gonna miss you, mom. Astronomically.
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