I sent my mom a whimsical Mother's Day card last year that made fun of all the silly things that happen when you raise a child. The card basically asked mom if I was worth it.
I received a text message from my mom the day after Mother's Day. It said:
Thanx for the cute Mother's Day card and of course U were worth it :) I thank u for giving me the opportunity to experience the joys of motherhood from birth to watching you take your 1st steps, saying goodbye on your 1st day of school, dance recitals, school plays, cheerleading competition, G Scout campouts, jr and sr proms, looking at colleges, our last family vacation. Then came your wedding and the joy and pitfalls of owning your 1st home. All these wonderful memories made possible because of u. I'm so proud of u :) Love, mom
My mom had never said such an epic thank you to me before, and it really got to me. And it seemed especially eerie a few days after the text when I received a phone call from my dad telling me that he found my mom lifeless on the bedroom floor when he came home from work that day. She had passed away alone in my parent's condo sometime that afternoon. That text was the last thing my mom ever said to me.
My dad said he spoke with her on the phone that morning after he got into work. She was working as a home health aid and had come home from one of her overnight patient's houses feeling "fuzzy." She told my dad she was going to rest, and Dad didn't think anything of it. He figured she would just take a nap and they would have dinner together when he arrived home later.
My mom had seen her doctor earlier in the week for a regular check-up and he swore that her blood pressure medication was working just fine and she was in good health. No one could explain my mother's sudden passing. My dad refused to get an autopsy because it would not bring her back, and my brother and I respected his decision.
I had a really hard time facing people before the day on which my mom’s services were planned. I didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone about how I felt. I hid in the bathroom when people came over to see how I was doing. I felt horrible for hiding when people were just trying to be nice, but it seemed impossible for me to face the people who loved my mom. I wished I could just sleep and wake up after my mom’s services had already finished.
My mom was cremated, according to her wishes, and my dad, brother, and I decided against having a wake. We agreed to remember mom as the vibrant, living, loving being she was to us.
I somehow made it through my mom’s funeral services. So many strangers filled the funeral home and many of them told me how much I reminded them of my mom. Some of them told me stories about my mom that I had never heard before. Seeing all of the people my mom had touched during her short time here was so very inspiring. My mom’s spirit was embedded in the hearts of so many.
It was hard to get “back to normal” at work and play. My husband and his unwavering love really got me through most days. I decided it was OK to let myself cry whenever and wherever I needed to. And I did cry.
I made it past my mom’s birthday in August. She would have been 62 years old. I made it past the day in late August when my mom was going to celebrate her retirement. She was planning a huge party where I would have met all the strangers that attended my mom’s services, only under happier circumstances.
I made it past the day in September when my Dad told my brother and I that he was seeing someone new. This new woman was a mutual friend of his and my mom’s –- a widow for over 20 years. I made it through Christmas where I met the new girlfriend, even though I wasn’t ready for her. I respected that my Dad needed someone and I found relief in the idea that he was finding happiness again. I can’t imagine what it was like for him to lose his partner of 32 years.
As anyone can imagine, this year has been a rough one. I am still unsure if I have gone through all of the stages of grief. It’s hard for me to understand that my mom just isn’t here anymore. We weren’t the closest of families, but we were small family and my mom made sure we stayed in touch.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday and I didn’t start feeling the sadness until I stood in the card aisle at the drugstore this afternoon trying to choose the right Mother’s Day card for my Mother-In-Law. The tears came back. It’s not fair my mom left without warning. It’s not fair she didn’t get to celebrate her retirement. It’s not fair my dad was left alone to live in a condo my mom had chosen for them, full of her things, left to take care of a dog my mom wanted.
I chose a beautiful Mother’s Day card for my Mother-in-Law and went back to work where I cried in the ladies room for about 15 minutes. Home from work that evening, I desperately Googled for articles that could help me cope with my loss at this time of year.
I know there are other 32-year-old women who have lost their moms in similar circumstances, but I am having trouble finding the right article to soothe my pain. So I decided to write this so I can ask a group of my peers: How do you celebrate Mother’s Day if your Mom has passed on?