Like A River

I used to sing along to Alanis Morissette at the top of my lungs when I felt like screaming, and I felt like screaming a lot in my 20s. It was the unhappiest period of my life. I had my mom, but even she was depressive. I always felt helpless when I saw her cry because there was really nothing I could to make her feel better.

My mom was much happier before she had to retire (she was forced to; her post was abolished) but she always found things to keep herself busy after: she started and ran a tiny corner store out of our house (she loved selling candies to little kids), and taught English at a language school and privately at home. I often overheard her brag to her pupils about how good my English was, how good I was with computers, and how my good English and computer skills helped me get good jobs. She was such a mom. But then my dad had to retire too and things changed for the worse.

The only time my mom could be herself was when my dad went out of town. She would hum some oldies songs, make silly mom jokes, and just seem so relaxed and happy. I loved when my mom was happy. It made me happy. But my dad wasn’t away very often ever since he retired because, unlike my mom, he was fine with not doing much. I very rarely saw my mom happy since.

Alanis Morissette’s “Heart of the House” describes the kind of relationship I had with my mom perfectly. It could’ve been our anthem. We were each other’s buddy and ally, and my mom was undoubtedly the heart of the house. After she died, our house no longer felt like home. It was just a house full of pain and sadness that I had to escape at all costs, dead or alive.

Carly Simon’s “Like A River” helped me deal with losing my mom a little bit. It is comforting to think of her death as her being “already home, making it nice for when I come, like the way I find my bed turned down coming in from a late night out” because she used to do exactly that.

I sure do find comfort in the most obscure songs.