Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Motherless on Mother's Day

Dear Irie,
It’s the day after Mother’s Day. My first motherless Mother’s Day. I survived it, probably because essentially it’s no worse than being motherless every other day of the year. I have no cards or gifts or flowers to commemorate the day, there is no tangible gift (though I have been promised that I can pick out a new beach chair). Instead what I have, though not exactly free, is absolutely priceless. I have the memories of a 24 hour quick trip to the beach. I have the vision of Crawford toppling backwards into the water as a wave knocked him down, and yet he got up laughing and crouched down for the next one. I have the memory of your bravery as you ventured further and further out to sea and the sound of your name in my ears as your daddy and I called you back, the way you hugged me at dinner as we ate shrimp boil and I rocked Crawford to sleep, and the happiness as Andrew dug into his own plate of shrimp and then ate ice cream that looked like Play-Doh. I am filled with the happiness that can only be felt from tucking a warm baby (no matter how big or old) into bed after they fall asleep somewhere unusual and then waking up to the voices of those same babies telling you happy Mother’s Day. I have the words sent to me by friends and family that loved my mother and our little family. And although every moment was not perfection, I am reminded often that our perfectly imperfect life fits me just fine.

For years I bought my mother gifts for Mother’s Day, and now those gifts are sitting in a house that I will soon clean out to make my own. She couldn't take any of the gifts that we bought her along with her, but I do hope that she was able to take her memories, because I am sure that even Heaven gets lonely without the three of you there.

For the past six and half months I have felt like an anchorless ship, tossing on a sea that is not always calm. The thing that no one mentions about losing your mother, is the irony of it. You see the one person that I want to talk to about what happened to her, is her. The only person that I feel like would understand and talk me through the pure injustice of what happened, is my mother, and yet she’s not here. I was thinking today as I drove down the road, that there should be some magic clause that brings the people we lose back to us to help us understand why we lost them in the first place, because although others will talk us through it, frankly it’s only the thoughts of the one we lost that we care about; it is their reassurance that they are happy and in a better place that we need, their affirmation that we crave, not the words of people who only hope that it’s true. I want to ask her how to heal the broken pieces of my heart and yet I remember being three years old and my mother holding me against her as she cried for her grandmother; I can still feel her sadness as she mourned her own parents till the day that she became the mourned. I fear that I will never get over her because I see that she never got over them. And really I guess that’s the way it works.

The thing about missing your mother, is that you don’t know you miss her all the time, though when you let yourself think about it and truly feel it, your body has become weakened by the weight of missing them. And though I wish we were given power over when we miss them, we don’t. I can go days, maybe a week or two without that sickening feeling when reality sets in and I realize she is actually gone and not simply living in another town or on vacation. I miss her most not when I am at my lowest, but when I am at my highest. I miss her when I am so happy that I cannot wait to share that happiness with her, I miss her when I am excited and I need someone to be excited with me. I miss her when I have a plan or a dream that I want to hear spoken so that it gains weight and becomes reality. I miss her when I need someone to believe in me the way that only a mother truly can. I miss her when I need someone to think it can be done because I want it, when I need practicality to weigh less than the pure fire in my gut. I miss her when I dream peacefully and wake up to the feel of her kiss on my forehead and the certainty that she has been with me.

I wasn’t always a great daughter. I believe that is true for most of us with any true spirit of our own. And yet, I can’t truly regret most of it. I was a daughter and she was a mother and neither of us could escape the struggle of me becoming who I needed to be, and her making sure that I survived it. My mother rarely, if ever. yelled: we waged a silent war of wills that we somehow survived and came out closer than we began.

As I scrolled through Facebook today, after avoiding it on the actual holiday, I was swamped with picture after picture and post after post of mothers and children and the expressions of love and appreciation that they shared. I wonder though if they will feel this way on July 28 and October 17; the day that I have a birthday without the woman who gave birth to me or the anniversary of the last time that I hugged my mother and told her that I loved her thinking that I would talk to her the next day and eat at her table that Sunday. I hope that even on those days that seemingly mean nothing, mothers are loved and appreciated and told so.

You, baby girl (and your brothers), are my greatest gift, my greatest blessing. I do not need gifts or flowers; in all this world, all I need is you and your brothers and love that comes without conditions.
Happy Mother’s Day to the three of you (and your daddy), because without you I would have no reason for celebration.