When my mom passed away, there eventually came the point where the crying and social isolation stopped — a day when I finally felt ready to leave my room and go back to the open world. When that time came, I thought about what the next few days, months, years would be like without her.
The first thought to hit my head was that birthdays and holidays would never feel the same again.
No longer having my mother, Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like Mother’s Day. It feels like another day, another day remembering that she isn’t here.
I imagine the things I would do to show my love for her. I reflect on the Hallmark cards my dad purchased on my behalf, the breakfasts of Eggo waffles, eggs, and ham, the times I was too broke to buy something from the store.
I remember one year I gave her my most recent college transcript. She didn’t keep up with my education after being sent to a rehab facility for 24/7 care. I just wanted her to know the son she put her effort into was pretty smart and had a decent chance of going somewhere in life.
My mom didn’t get to see me graduate. She passed a couple of weeks before my commencement. It didn’t hit me till this past week that was also a few weeks before Mother’s Day.
Each year, I want nothing more than to do something special for her. Treat her to a fancy brunch. Buy a massage and spa package. Maybe take a helicopter tour or get those computer lessons that interested her.
I don’t have those options. Not now. The time I had with my mom was the time I had. She raised me, dealt with me, struggled with my struggles. She played the role of the “mean parent,” the disciplinarian. We battled, yelled at times. She talked, and I wouldn’t listen. She wanted to chat, and I wouldn’t confide in her.
But she never gave up on me. She gave up so much of herself to others, even while convinced no one cared about her the same way. She wanted to take in everything this world could offer but was too caught up in her world to get there. She was a fighter, even as disease took over her body and took away her friends.
She had a temper and a short-fuse but wanted to make other people smile. She had a penchant for self-loathing and thinking about how different life could’ve been, but wanted to be the first person to lift you up when your spirit was down.
She was proud of herself when she made an excellent point. She would hear music that reminds her of something from the ’70s and immediately dance while seated in her walker. We watched /The Dark Knight/, and I could’ve sworn she wasn’t paying attention. But when Harvey Dent lied about being Batman in that press conference, she gasped in disbelief.
She could be harsh. She could be soft-spoken. She could release all the angst she has toward you in a tirade, but ask if you want anything to eat an hour later. At times she could be rude. At others, she would display a tremendous amount of empathy.
She was complicated. I would look at her and wonder how I managed why God made me her son. Now I look in the mirror and see so much of her in myself. She molded and influenced who I am more than I could imagine. I want to let her know, laugh about it, and say “thank you.”
Instead, I visit her gravesite, look at old photos, or write something about her, just as I am right now.
I don’t write this to tell you to appreciate your moms or remind you that nothing lasts forever. I write this because every Mother’s Day, I’m hurting. And I don’t know another way to release some of that other than to write about it.