Monday, April 19, 2010

My mother is dead.

This is not a happy post, but one I felt compelled to write.

My mother is dead. I feel angry. I feel guilty. I want her back. I need her back. For her, form me, for her family and friends and poetry. I feel jealous of those who have both parents. There are so many who are less deserving of a mother. I am. I loved my mother. I told her how much she mattered to me and I told the truth. How can she be dead? How can she be dead when others less deserving still live? People are alive who just go on killing time and when they are gone it will not matter. This was not her. Why could not one of them have gone in her place? It is not right. It is unfair. Death always seems unfair, but this one was particularly so. She died at fifty four. I am in my twenties. It is wrong. I should have been 50, not her. She was too young; I am too young to lose my mother and too old to not remember her now that I have.

I know she is dead. I am not in denial, which is the little I can say. I saw her body. I could tell from how it lay that it would not move again, like a soiled bed or a doll left in the ditch or an apple forgotten in the fruit bowl. Once death was a metaphor for those things, but to explain it I used them as a metaphor for her body. The body was no good. It could not harbour human life any longer.

I wish it called for revenge. I want someone to pay. I want someone to suffer for taking her from me. How dare the world do such a thing? But it is life, and no particular person. But there is no one. It is for the best, I would only get myself into trouble. I have a little anyhow. A man on the street was nearly hit by a car in his own negligence. He was angry at the car and I pointed out that the driver was simply upset at having nearly caused a death. He became angry with me. Insisted he was in the right. Following me. I slapped him. All the time I thought, I would like this man to suffer a little. I would like to take this out on him. What right does he have to live in a world that my mother no longer inhabits? There are others like him. I could hurt them too. Angry, stupid people who call attention to themselves when there are beautiful people in this world, people like my mother who would never ask for such attention.

I will not do these things, but I think of them as consolation. I pretend I will because it makes it hurt less.

I knew how lucky I was and I know how unlucky I now am. To lose a parent is devastation. For me to lose my mother is worse, worse in circumstance and worse again because she was so warm and so wonderful and gifted. My mother was Tanya Kern.


Anonymous said...

Dear Jesse:

I'm so so sorry. I don't know what to say. I don't mean at all to be a voyeur, exhibit someone else's work I don't know but you mom was such a rich talent. So gifted. She is bless. Truly. I have absolute belief and trust that she's in a great place. Please don't grieve; she made a choice. Perhaps it was sudden, at the worst, born of a terrible mood but, I believe her work shows the courage of great and unyielding love that outsands any and all other action.

Jesse said...

Oh no, I am happy that you had her poem there. Thank you for your kind words also.

Elisabeth said...

Dear Jesse

I am sorry to read this here now. To hear that your mother is dead. You in your twenties, she in her fifties.

I think I understand your grief. I would feel it too.

It seems your mother died suddenly, her own choice? Anonymous writes. I don't understand. Nor do I need to understand. The loss pf a mother whatever the circumstances is devastating.

You do well to rant. You do well to want to take revenge even as you will not. There is no consolation here.

I think of WH Auden's poem written on the death of his beloved.

You probably know it. It seems apt.

Read it out loud, to yourself. I suspect it might express some of your feelings, which you already express so clearly here.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I agree with you, Jesse, you are too young to lose your mother. You have every right to grieve. Long and loud, let us know your pain. You ought not hold it in. Share it with those who might be able to hear.

And keep writing.

Jesse said...

Thank you Elisabeth for your kind words and for Auden. I do know it, but did not think of it, as I ought have, as something to turn to.

She killed herself in the woods by the lake that we loved. We don't know why.

Elisabeth said...


I'm so sorry. It makes it so much worse, that your mother should have killed herself and for you not to understand her reasons, what ever they were.

I hope you have someone to talk to. You need it now at this terrible and painful time. My thoughts are with you.

Kellie said...

Jesse, I am still reeling from this information. I was looking online for her news of her about 10 days ago when I came upon these posts.

I remember when you and Rainer were little. You would sometimes come to my house in Esquimalt when your mother and I were learning to write and learning to critique each other. I came to your house in Metchosin a number of times too. My simply-wired mind was both mystified and spell-bound by her power to express with words.

My vision of this world without Tanya is altered. She was an important piece of my puzzle. I always regretted that I lost touch with her when my family moved back to Ontario. I loved and respected her and am so sorry that she is gone.

Jesse said...


I have had people near me. I live with some friends, and I knew we were close and that that was good but I did not know before this happened how much I would need them. They have helped me and hugged me and given me someone to cry.


I feel the same way. Mother had some mystery about her that I never expected to understand. It feels like now that she is gone I never will understand it.

I will be visiting my grandmother in Ontario this Christmas. If you are still there and if you would not mind I would like to meet you and maybe you can tell me stories of my mother and I can tell you some too.

Kellie said...


Let me know when you are coming and where you are going and I will try to meet you. I live several hours east of Toronto, but have two stores and not much time off! I would love to see you though if we can work it out. If you are on facebook you can connect with me there... kellie dearman