I wrote the following post five years ago on my first motherless Mother’s Day.
This year, I face that upcoming day benumbed with grief following the death of two beloved dogs within the last six weeks. That grief, the grief of a “Dog Mom”, is another post for another time. It is difficult to describe the ocean as it drowns you. At least it is too difficult for me to do so today.
Instead, I offer the following. Because it is even more true today than it was five years ago when I wrote it. Because I miss her more. Need her more. Long even more for just one more moment with her.
To all of you for whom Mother’s Day is more sadness than celebration, please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us linked in silent longing. Hard as it may be to believe, there is strength in that. Children without mothers. Mothers without children. May we hold fast together.
A Mother’s Day Letter
Unsure of the date, I know only that it is Saturday, the Saturday before my first Mother’s Day without you.
How I miss you.
The world is busy with mothers and the mothered preparing for tomorrow’s festivities. I find I cannot remember ours last year, our last one together.
It had to have been in that horrible place, the one we both hated, the one which you overcame with a grace I did not and will never have. So much of that place I have forgotten. I hope it never comes back to me.
Still, I wish I could remember more clearly our last Mother’s Day together. You refused to go out. You always refused to go out. So, I brought you in something good to eat (a cherry cheesecake?) and a gift sack filled with the little trinkets, the little nothings that you loved. Those memories are clear — your silver head bent low into a bag, your beautiful face rising up with a glow, clutching a Walgreens nothing as though it were a Tiffany treasure.
We had little more than two months left together.
Would you still be alive if I had kept you at home? If I had let you stay there alone ten hours a day, you and your dogs, in your old chair with your television? How many more times would you have fallen without telling me, calling the paramedics to come get you up before I got home? How many more times would the smell of something burning have awoken you to remember you’d put something on the stove before the old house burned down around you three?
Would that have been better than that last year as it was, where it was?
I do not know.
There is so much I do not know.
I know only that I miss you. With a magnitude, to a depth, I could not have imagined while you were still with me.
“You’ll miss me when I’m gone.”
You said that so often. And always, I gave the same reply.
“Yes, I will.”
But, I did not know.
How could I?
Most likely you did.
Not just because you knew everything — in your last years, you simply exhaled wisdom so that even your silences were schooling — but, not only that. You knew because you had lost your own mother. Because you had lived most of my life without her — years and years and decades without her, and so you knew just how fathomless the pain would be, just how total, how all-encompassing, the solitude of being Motherless would be.
“You’ll miss me when I’m gone.”
Yes, I do.
The wind you loved blows hard across me out here. I brave it only for the sunlight you despised, the sunlight without which this child of yours cannot survive. Still, it is strong, your wind, and soon it will best the sun and I will step back inside, grateful that its sound, at least, may follow me.
But now, just for now, let me sit in my sunshine, as your wind blows, carrying with it the memory of your crooked fingers scratching my back, the sweetness of your smile when I walked into the room, the mother-only tenderness of your voice calling me, “Momma’s old sweet baby”.
Thank you for giving me this life. It is such a blessing, such a beauty, such a wonder.
But right now, I would give it all and all and over again, for just one moment with you.