On this day in 2019 my mother passed away at the age of 50. Her name was Rosemarie Lehe and I will not let today pass without honoring her for all her incredible humanity. In this humble attempt at something somewhat like an obituary I hope to honor what should not be forgotten.
Rosemarie was a light in the lives of all who she touched. The youngest of five children, Mom grew up sheltered in the suburbs surrounding New York City, in a small cookie-cutter town called Wood-Ridge.
My mother learned early on the virtue of generosity, as my grandparents routinely fed, clothed, and sheltered many of the neighborhood children. I have quite an extended family due to the nature of my childhood home. My Aunts Dawn and Donna in particular are both as much a Lehe as my late Aunt Donna, my late Uncle Johnny, my Aunts Barbara, her dear friend Robin, my Aunt Laura, and my mother were themselves.
She became a mother at 18, I being her first born. My sister was born almost 5 years later, and 10 years after my sister was born Mom brought our brother into the world. I would not presume that I alone could tell you their stories of Mom, only that she strived to relate to us. Mom blessed us with her infectious smile always, and never denied us her time. Of all the inheritances in the world, nothing could ever amount to that sort of wealth, I guarantee.
Unfortunately, my mother’s gentle and non-aggressive nature lead to many hardships and pitfalls. Mom was the victim of intense domestic violence, at the age of 13 I witnessed her beaten just short of death by her boyfriend. My mother was the victim of much sexual abuse and violence by men of authority and in the workplace. She suffered from a deep fear of abandonment, which resulted in a string of unhealthy partnerships over the course of her life. By her 30’s my mother became severely addicted to opiates, and as a result of that and the incident which occurred when I was 13, my siblings and I spent many years in foster care.
After this point we hardly spent time with her, calls became less frequent, cell phones were not as common nor did I have one, and she was left alone. I wonder often if Mom might have found sobriety had she not been so isolated. It’s a guilt I find myself toiling over often, because the independence was a thing I grew used to and comfortable in. The most difficult part of her death for me was accepting that she would never become sober and live a healthy life free of addiction’s pains. Truthfully I never stopped believing Mom would find the strength to quit. In that I mourn two deaths, that of my mother and that of the hope I reserved for her healthy future.
Despite the tragedies that befell her, as we all get to have our own as we press through life, Mom was authentically eclectic. Her fervor for fashion was fierce, without forgetting to be fun, whimsical, and transient. From a young age, in a time when it was unheard of for a young woman to dye her hair she did; sporting a stark white streak on the side of her perfectly feathered raven locks. She also amassed a yet to be rivaled collection of leather boots, jackets, and bags over the course of her life, caring meticulously for every garment. And I cannot forget to mention how her passion for animal print transcended infamy after a whole church and choir honored her memory by sporting leopard print everything on the day of her funeral.
Towards the end of her life, although I didn’t know at the time that it was the end of her life, I moved back home around the corner from her house. Our time together then did not compensate for the time lost in childhood, but it was a welcome blessing. My mother was able to spend days with my daughter and experience holidays, weekends, and years as a full-time grandmother which she found immense joy and purpose in. Mom understood my daughter in ways that only someone as empathic and sweet as her could. I learned so much about compassionate parenting from watching her parent from the outside in. I witnessed my daughter bask in the abundance of love which I had only felt from her and from my own grandmother, who Mom and I both missed miserably.
I would describe myself as headstrong, and often misunderstood, but my mother went the extra mile to try and connect, understand, and support me, no matter how hard on her I could be. 2017- 2019 were particularly transitory years for my life, where I was not always my best self despite earnest effort. In 2018 I began to train in hopes of joining the military, Mom gifted me a flag, and was the only person not to doubt my capability for even a moment. In 2019 my husband and I were married and Mom walked me down the aisle. I nearly postponed the wedding a year. For the record I am so glad I hadn’t, more than just the global pandemic– how much harder that would have made planning, rather because Mom passed not 8 months after. I’m honored that chance and circumstance granted me that universal kindness.
My mother’s care and devotion to me saved my life, and set me up for the most success she could offer me with whatever little she had. With her I was able to achieve independence and find myself in ways which without her would have been impossible. I look back on the time I had with her on this Earth with longing, I want to be with her again so badly it makes me ache. But I also have a sense of peace, knowing how fortunate I am in reality to have had her at all. My mother armed me with titanium empathy, iron perseverance, and endless love. I only hope only that her investment and belief in my capabilities will not be in vain. That is truly my deepest insecurity.
The only wish she ever expressed to me was her dream of seeing the Grand Canyon via road trip with my sister and us together. I’m morose that this never came to fruition. I was building a playlist and trying to make it happen before joining the service. Perhaps one day I will be able to drive there and spread or bury her ashes. Perhaps she’s already seen in from the perspective of speeding light and cosmic particles. The future is a mystery of which no one human can be certain. What I am sure of without doubt is that my mother Rosemarie Lehe’s life, one of radical compassion and selfless love, is a beacon in the sentiments which populate my heart. Her memory will remain a cherished piece of me which I would never dare vanquish. Her kindness radiates out the smile and light of my own child. The lessons I’ve learned by her example and lent experience will not be lost so long as I’m alive to ponder them.
Thank you for it all, Mom. I wish you peace. Perhaps we’ll meet again.
Paige Six | 11.5.20
I’ve waited quite literally a lifetime to settle into the type of love which brings the terms settling to a distinctly new definition. I love my husband the way I love to run barefoot through grass. I love my husband the way I love to find shapes in clouds.
So when he came home yesterday telling me he needs more tests, that his back may be giving out not due to the degeneration of his discs which the VA insists is not a service related disfigurement, but because there may be a growth on his spine, well it felt fitting that the bright side of his diagnosis rests on the chance that the signs of a growth may be only a shadow.
For reasons I will not disclose in this portion of my writings: I feel like Faust. How beautiful it is to feel the skin of a lover who embraces you so whole, gentle on the blade of his fingers my cheeks, wisps of baby hairs, and the gentle swell of grey hairs spreading across our hairlines. How heartbreaking it is to put the plans to buy a home on hold because treatments cost so much money, and money doesn’t grow on trees nor has a history of populating my pockets for too long.
We used to sing together in his silver Elantra “it just takes some time…”, but the closer I get to whatever remains of my life the more I understand how time only takes. Every break I take risks breaking me as well as it can rejuvenate my body and mind. The fine line between resting and rusting, how I’ve made a living of walking its tight rope. And the bygones kept floating by.
We still sing together, more than ever. Only it’s in our white Buick. My only regret is that we didn’t realize that this was the best life could be. We went our separate ways for so long, and now we have no idea what’s left. It’s such a bittersweet kind of dream life.
Paige Six | 10.07.20
Being chosen for print has always been an object of my desire. I have always wanted to have my work accepted, appreciated, and loved. But what is this driving force that keeps me sharing my words rather than locking them in my armoire to be discovered upon my death like Emily Dickinson?
Jacques Lacan coined the phrase ‘objet petit a’. What he meant to accomplish was noble in my opinion: was to put a neat bow around the emotion surrounding an unattainable object of desire. Was to give humanity a phrase in which we could communicate and relate to one another through our unique shrouds of longing.
I particularly love the use of small. tiny. petite: ‘objet petit a’. Because it feels small, doesn’t it? Even though it inspires our bigger calls to action
Would you call it an echo? Or perhaps just a ringing? Picture a soft Doppler Effect: a subtle vibration that flows in waves, a pattern that we can follow until the next soundwave disrupts the flow changing our driving direction towards something new and more colorful? Hubble might have said so had he not had so many more important realities to tackle.
Is it to pine for an unspecified, and perhaps abstract moment in the future? A greatness? Or maybe to long for it to rectify the regrets that haunt our past without consequences of regression? A reunion?
It is a ghost that hasn’t passed away yet haunting us, speaking through code upon a ouija board and we simply will not say good bye? Maybe it did die and we’re arrested in the denial stage.
In my time postulating how to put this phrase, ‘objet petit a’ into poetry I have come to some conclusion as to what it means to me, currently, or in the past, as to you are most definitely reading it as it was in mine:
Imagine a mote, a spec of dust, neglected maybe, inside of us that we cannot pinpoint, something too small to see without a microscope. Yet it is powerful. The quantum quandary that allows for the tiniest pieces to hold the greatest potential force. An atomic explosion resulting from hadron collision. A Big Bang. An accelerated particle in all of us that was dormant for far too long.
It’s not missing, I think, even though we search for it, chase it, dream on it. No, I believe this ‘objet petit a’ takes on the abstract shape of an unfillable void. a pocket with an endless hole. While one small spec may light its dark tiny spaces for a while, its insatiable longing pulls us towards the next object of our human appetites.
And it makes us great. It makes us better. It makes humanity, when working towards a cohesive goal more whole. I am proud to be a part of something that made the world more beautiful and kind, even if it is not my final destination…
Paige Six | 3.20.20