I’m about to have a serious moment here on my silly puppy blog…
Mother’s Day. Not exactly an easy time of year when you’ve lost your mom. If you, like me, have experienced this loss: (1) I’m giving you a big Internet hug right now, because I know we can both use it this weekend; and (2) I’m giving you a second big Internet hug because one wasn’t enough.
Time heals all wounds, or so the saying goes. Not true, I’d argue. In this Slate article, Meghan O’Rourke movingly describes her experience with Mother’s Day after losing her mother. (Warning: tissues probably needed. Also, if you haven’t read O’Rourke’s 2008 Slate series on grief, it’s well worth a read, especially if you’ve ever lost a loved one. And hey, you already have the tissues out, right?) In particular, this passage in which O’Rourke quotes the book Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman really spoke to me:
“As much as the talking, the model-providing, the advice, it’s that we miss: the blanketing warmth. One of the women Edelman interviewed for her book said, movingly, about being motherless: “You have to learn how to be a mother for yourself. You have to become that person who says, ‘Don’t worry, you’re doing fine. You’re doing the best you can.’ Sure, you’ll call friends who say that to you. … But hearing it from that person who taped up all your scraped knees … that’s the one you keep looking for.”
In other words, a mother is irreplaceable. It’s a loss that never quite goes away – something’s always a bit off. I think O’Rourke’s use of the terms unmothered and unmoored are very accurate ways of describing this feeling. Losing your mother is a bit like being set adrift. The initial grief is strong – currents pushing you away from the shore. But you realize that you can’t keep floating forever, and you remember how to swim, how to get through the day. At first, you’re just treading water, trying to keep from sinking. As you keep swimming (smiling here as I think about Dory singing “just keep swimming” in Finding Nemo), the sharp edges of grief start to dull and you are finally able to make some progress. (In fact, making sure to keep myself moving forward seemed a fitting way to honor the woman who raised me and shaped the person I would become.) However, you realize that you will never be anchored in quite the same way again – one of your mooring lines has disappeared, and it’s not coming back.
I think about Mom every day, but the pain is less acute. Even so, I still find myself longing to have her back, to be mothered again. I never realized how often I used to call to ask some silly little cooking question or just to chat until I couldn’t just pick up the phone to do those things anymore. Words don’t even do justice to how much I miss that woman, who was mother, confidant, and friend (once we got past my bratty teenager phase and I realized that there’s no friend quite like your mom).
My mom was the best. Not having her here, to put it bluntly and not very eloquently, sucks. Don’t get me wrong – I still have a great deal to be thankful for, and there are a lot of great things in my life. I’m a very lucky gal, with a wonderful father, sister, husband, family, puppy, and friends. In addition, I’ve acquired a fantastic mother-in-law along the way. Happy Mother’s Day to her and all of the other wonderful women in my life who are mothers. (That technically includes Bella too – after a youthful indiscretion, she found herself with puppies. After she had them, it seems that the person kept the puppies and dropped Bella off at a shelter. How could anyone bear to part with this cute little face? I don’t understand people sometimes. But I digress…)
Apparently I’m all about the big Internet hugs today, so here’s one for all of the mothers out there too. Make sure you get some real-world hugs this weekend as well… me, I’ll be spending time with the hub and our furry child, Bella. Expect some hugs, you two. Back to the happy puppy posts in short order, I promise. 🙂