One of my least favorite memories of my mom is when she’d get angry and say, “Life sucks and then you die.”

We weren’t even allowed to say the word suck as children growing up, so when she said it, you knew she meant it. I think, even as a child, it made me sad on some deep level to know my mom broke her own language rule to describe LIFE.

I know most people only write pleasant memories about those who have passed on and I understand why. I applaud that why. I do not disparage that why at all and, if you have read any of my previous writing, you know I have done a fair amount of that as well in the past.

But, you will also know by now that I do not do what most other people do.

I loved my mother. I can still feel her absence when I descend the basement stairs into the choir loft at the church where I grew up, to this day. I can hear her laugh in a large auditorium before seeing her; I can admire the way she took control of any group that needed controlling: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Youth Group, PTA, Choir, the local school board… you get the picture.

But my mom (same as any other human being living in the real world) had another side. She lost her shit every once in a while. She rung her hands and cussed and clenched her fists at the heavens. She got frustrated and angry and sad. She said things she didn’t mean. She fought and scolded and cried when things didn’t go her way.

It isn’t a mark against her character. It’s just human.

We’re all human.

I regret that I couldn’t recognize the humanness in her when she was still alive, but I was still too young. Life hadn’t kicked my ass hard enough, yet. I couldn’t relate.

When she died, I hadn’t yet realized that parents are just normal people still trying to figure out their own shit while raising little tiny people who didn’t even know they had shit to figure out, yet.

Looking back, I can see the signs. I can see the moments where, if I were her close friend instead of her adolescent daughter, I would have made her take a pause, made her step back and calm down. I can see where my fury and anger and irrational outbursts sometimes mirror hers. I can see how infuriating life can be. I can relate to this feeling that life doesn’t do anything but suck, and then as soon as it doesn’t suck, you die.

I am terrified that you can manifest it – your own death. You can say it so much that you form your own tumors and malignancies and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of life sucking then you immediately dying. It’s inadvertent, unintended. But the universe doesn’t realize you don’t actually mean the words coming out of your mouth. They think that is what you want: for life to suck and then for you to die.

My mom was only 46-years old when she died. I have friends older than that, now. When she died that seemed an unfathomable milestone: to have close friends as old as she was when she died.

And the closer I get to her, the age she was when she died, the more certain I am that I do not want to feel like all life has to offer is to suck and then kill you.

I want to feel like life is wondrous. I want to feel like life is a miracle. Like it’s giving me all it has, and has left no room for negativity. And that any negativity handed over to me was an accident, a by-product of some other fantastic miracle yet seen. The ugly but necessary waste after refining more pleasant end results.

I don’t want to stop and think that all there is, is sucking and dying. I want to run outside with the giddiness of a child and wonder at the sunset. I want to say whatever insane, goofy, backwards thought comes into my head and not feel judged. I want my kids to know what it means to be human but also know it doesn’t have to be negative; to know that, sometimes, yes, life does suck, but that’s not all.

Life can also be happy and chaotic and wondrous and free. It can be confusing and heartbreaking and sullen and empty. It can be exciting and shocking. Unfair and hard. Perfect and puzzling.

It can be all these things before you die. The important part is to pay attention to all of it, call each stage out, give them all their due.

Don’t wait until life sucks the absolute most, to remember all the parts about life you love. Don’t wait til life is running out to get really honest about how much life has actually given you. Don’t wait until you’re about to die, to realize how much life doesn’t really suck at all.