This Mother’s Day: Loss and Love

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This year is going to be a little different. May 13th actually falls ON Mothers day. It’s also the date my mother passed, 5 years ago.  The positive? I can bang both of these out in one day. No grieving on two separate days. A two for one and I love deals.

Oh that day, the weather, the birds, running out of the house to get some fresh air after it happened. Going out for breakfast after they picked her up because there was no way I could eat anything at the house or even be at the house, (the only thing I knew about grief is that you have to eat, it’s also the only thing I know to do when someone is grieving – bring food) – all the while feeling like I was a terrible person for going out for breakfast when my mom had passed away hours before. 

I remember reassuring myself, ‘this will be the worst thing that will ever happen to you, there won’t be anything worse than this.’ I remember thinking what it would be like years in the future, ‘you will be better, stronger and far away from this sadness.’ I’d learned that by transporting my focus to years in the future the present could shrink. And here we are 5 years later.

Boy do I miss her. But I’m ok. I can let myself go back to those final weeks and they sting. They go right to the pit of my stomach. I think of all the things I wish I did differently during that time. The things I wish I said. The nutritional knowledge I have now, I can drive myself crazy over wishing I knew then what I know now. Could I have saved her? Lessened her suffering? Could I have been a better daughter to her? I did my best to protect her, and to follow her wishes. I did what felt like my best at the time, I guess.

I’m going to be straight up with you. A day is going to come when your mom is no longer here on earth. She will leave and there is nothing you, or she, can do about it.  (And once that happens, you may find yourself at The Container Store, by choice, seeking out it’s container-chaos to avoid the chaos inside of your mind. You’ll be there for over 2 hours, with a list in your pocket that you’ll take out and read over and over again. You might find the pencil holder section, and then take out that list and read it again, and then you might go over to the pasta containers, take out the list and read it again, and then back over to the pencil holder section where you’ll question whether you really need a pencil holder. You’ll dizzy yourself around that store for hours without the will or the energy to decide on a pencil holder, or a pasta holder, or any other container for things that don’t matter because your mother is dead now and THAT is what REALLY fricken matters. And then you’ll finally leave, empty-handed. That day will warm during the time you are in the store, and the sun will be high in the sky and you’ll get in your car and remember the world is not the same, and you’ll franticly cry your eyes out until your face swells and throbs and your eyelashes turn into wet angry spikes. And then you’ll breathe again.)  So cherish these moments you have. Slow down the hands of time and be here now. 

If there’s a positive aspect to grief, it’s what fills in the space left behind. It’s a type of love which far surpasses what we are capable of knowing prior to losing someone we love.  Does that make sense? When you lose your mother (or anyone, really), those things that used to bother you, the arguments, the disappointments, and the memories begin to shift, and you begin to love your mom far more than you ever could have loved her when she was alive.

So this Mother’s Day I hope you talk to your mom and I hope you laugh. I hope you do something nice for her, with her. I hope she annoys you and I hope that you can be patient and appreciative, nonetheless. Yes, I know it can be hard to do, but let me tell you it’s even harder when she’s gone. Be patient, be grateful, and be kind. Appreciate this time, soak it in and make beautiful memories. And forgive. 

My mom loved being a mom, it was her calling, it was what filled her up and it brought her so much joy. That’s what she was put here to do.  But becoming a mother was a long struggle for my her. My parents tried to start a family for years, without luck. The opportunity to adopt a 2 year old boy named Steven came about and they went for it.  Finally she was a mother. About 6 years later they adopted me. And within a year and a half of my adoption my mom miraculously became pregnant with my brother Tony. One of the last conversations I had with my mom was about motherhood. I remember it well. Outside the spring birds chirped and the world was in full bloom. The sun shone into our spare bedroom and a cool breeze came through the window. “Mom, if you could give me one piece of advice on being a mom, on having kids, what would it be?”  And her response was “give them your time.” How beautiful is that? 

To my mom, this mother’s day I’m sure we would have continued the tradition of a fabulous brunch, probably at Jodi’s, she sure knows how to host a party. Joel and I would have picked you up, and you would have done your hair and make up and doused yourself in that Green Tea Body Spray. You would have called the whole thing elegant, and you would have been enamored with their hunk of a dog, Bruce. I would have gotten you the most beautiful flowers from Sage, my favorite local flower shop, and who knows, maybe we would have planned another trip to Bermuda this year, just you and me.

Oh, life has become beautiful, Mum, and it would have been so nice to share this time in our lives with you.

While I don’t know where exactly you’ve gone, I do know if you could be here with me in the physical, understandable form, you would be. And that has brought me great comfort. I look for all the signs all the time and I know in some way you are still here; finally, I’ve accepted that there are just some things I will never understand.

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