My mother died when I was three months old. Because I had no recollection of her or her passing, I foolishly thought neither she nor her death had any importance in my life beyond the fact that our motherless home life was different than the family dynamics of my friends.

Fast forward. I am 40-something in a 20+ year marriage, miserable, depressed, and hopeless. I am also stuck caring for my father, a selfish man who loved and appreciated no one. A man I wanted to love and couldn’t. A man I wanted to love me but wouldn’t.

I go to a therapist to complain about my husband and my father, and all the therapist wants to discuss is my mother. Over and over she tries to drag our conversation to the subject of my long-deceased mother. I become frustrated and angry and shout, She has nothing to do with this!

The therapist replies, She has everything to do with this and with who you are.

She recommends I read Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman before our next session. I resentfully do so.

I cry through the whole book. I cry because my therapist was right — the death of my mother was the root of everything wrong or confused or conflicted in my life. The one event I thought had nothing to do with me had everything to do with me.

Ronan, your story brought back all those feelings — the shock, fear, confusion, and relief. Relief to have an answer for all that seemed so unanswerable.

Often what we lose has a greater effect on who we become than what we have.

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