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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

The Woman I Am So Angry With

Don’t do it, they say.

Don’t splay your spleen on the internet because you’ll be sorry later. You’ll think better of it – of her – when you’re not so tired and sad and you’ll take the post down but it won’t ever go away, not really. Before second thoughts show up, the first ones lurk in a dark corner of the web to trip you up with regret later when you forgot you’d ever entertained them in the first place.

But right now I just don’t care. It’s hours past midnight and an odd winter storm is cracking lightning over Balsam Range like runny eggs. I’m up, wild-eyed and wandering through the house. Brooding. Resentful.

At her. I can’t tell her off because she’s part of my family. I can’t separate from her without causing a schism. But my resentment? I’m entitled to it.

Oops, trigger word. She’d seize on that one to prove her point about privilege.


You were so privileged to have your mother for – how old are you now? – 66 years. Live long enough and we’re all orphans.

That mother raised me to be nice so I don’t say it, but I get my Social Security check each month. I’m not a child. I know we can’t keep our parents with us forever. I just wasn’t ready to lose mine. Not now, not yet. Wasn’t there something I could have done to prepare for this?

Be grateful, she admonishes. Your mother’s no longer suffering. You never left the house that last week. You saw what it was like. Did you really want her to stay when she was so ready to go?

She’s right, of course. That makes me mad, too. But somehow the heat of anger feels better than the chill in my bones when I wake in the mornings and, two seconds later, remember Mom’s no longer in her rooms on the other side of the house. A home joyfully purchased for three, not two.

You should be happy for her, she tells me. Rejoice even. Your mother has gone where there is no pain or tears. She’s with her mother, your dad. Jesus.

I know that, I want to say. I’ve memorized those promises, shared them with others. I’ve heard my husband preach them through a skim of tears at a thousand funerals.

Too many the past few weeks.

It’s the greatest story ever told. Of a Savior and Redeemer who pulled on flesh to come to our poor planet to show us the way home. If I didn’t know it as truth, everything I’ve given my life for would be fiction.

I know how the story ends, but I can’t help crying at the sad parts.

Ah, she says, and falls silent. Finally, when all I needed was for her to tell me that I’m not betraying my faith, my mother’s faith, in my heaving sorrow.

That where love has been present, grief will never be absent.

That it won’t always be this hard, but it will always be. How could it be otherwise, where love has gone? When loved ones are gone?

I forgive you is one of the most important things to say when a loved one dies, the hospice booklet says.

They just didn’t tell me that the person I would need to forgive, the woman I am so angry with, is myself.

But for her, too, there is mercy.

For her, too, there is grace.

Copyright 2020, Maggie Wallem Rowe

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