For the last five years, this has been a hard week. It’s the anniversary of my mom’s passing, Mother’s Day and her birthday, all within a one week span from May 7 to May 13. I loved my mom and miss her every day, but never more than on Mother’s Day.
There’s something sad about the day, even when you are a mom yourself. It reminds you that you don’t have that unconditional love in your life anymore, the kind that you only get from a really good mother. I miss her love, and just her—her humor, kindness and wisdom. And yeah, her tough love and “suck it up” attitude that pushed me to just get up and on with things when life knocked me down. I learned that from her—how to live in my head and not my heart, to not let the bad stuff win.
My mom lost her mother when she was about the age I lost her. I used to ask her how she was doing on Mother’s Day, because even though my mother had a much more complicated relationship with my grandmother than my mom and I had, my mom loved and missed her mother all the time.
Now I know how she feels. To this day, something happens and my first thought is to call my Mom.
My mom also lost a child. My sister was an adult, but she was my mom’s youngest. They were close in ways I never envied, but understood, even as my mom’s enabling of some of my sister’s worst habits drove me crazy. In some ways, I think losing her youngest daughter broke my mom. Certainly, she was never quite the same after my sister died. In some ways, she was softer—she learned that it’s okay not to always suck it up and just keep on. Sometimes, there are things you just can’t get past.
Losing Charlie was immeasurably harder without my mom’s love and support. I think she would have understood that this is a time when getting up and moving on is almost impossible. That losing a child is like losing a limb, I think—you learn how to adjust, but you will never, ever be the same. You have to relearn how to do certain things, how to be in the world minus something you never thought you’d lose. And that Mother’s Day, when you don’t have a mother and you’ve lost one of your children, is a day of both joy for the two amazing children you have, and a day of grief for the one you’ve lost.