Out of all of the holidays I find myself missing my mom, Mother’s Day is inherently the worst. The cultural build up of greeting cards, TV commercials, gifts, and holiday promotions only add another stinging wound to the gaping absence of my mom. For the past four years, I’ve scrolled through the photo dedications and thoughtfully written posts on social media, watching as my friends thank their moms and count their blessings to have her in their lives. I see photos of brunches, dinners, and family gatherings. Though I smile at the sweet messages of love that my friends profess, I am painfully aware that I no longer have a Mother’s Day to celebrate; more importantly, I no longer have a mother.
Now someone reading this could argue, “your mom is always with you and she is still watching over you.” They could say, “You can still celebrate her memory even though you can’t celebrate with her.” However, as well meaning as these sentiments are, they fail to alleviate the pain that comes with no longer having my mom physically present. There is no actual evidence that she’s watching from above; I could tell her about my day or say I love you into the silence, but I’ll never get a response. The harsh reality of the situation is, I’ve become a motherless daughter.
When I first lost my mom, it felt like losing a lifeline and falling overboard into a dark and cavernous sea – you can’t breathe and the panic sets in. I’d watch mothers push babies in strollers or daughters try on prom dresses with their moms. A pit would develop in my stomach every time I saw a friend’s mom give them a kiss or call them on the phone. At first it was jealousy that then grew into full-blown resentment. Why was I denied my mother’s presence and love out of all the people in the world? Why couldn’t I have more Mother’s Days and holidays to celebrate? As the years went by, the resentment faded and turned into a more somber sadness. I’ve come to terms with my situation, and I’ve moved towards making peace with the jaded part of myself.
Though I’ve prefaced this post with my current feelings on Mother’s Day, I want it to not be a post of mourning for my mom but a celebration of the mothers that are still in my life. These are the women who have led me through dark times to the end of the tunnel. These are the role models who encouraged me to pursue my goals and ambitions and helped me along the way. These are the champions who have lifted the burden of my grief off my shoulders and carried it on their own. Most importantly, these are the mothers who have loved me unconditionally like their own child.
After my mom died, it was a painful process accepting these women into my life. I had set an unrealistic expectation for myself to find a replacement for my mom, a proxy that could fill the gaping hole in my heart. I’d schedule lunch dates, make phone calls, and have long conversations with my mom’s friends and our family members only to end up bitterly disappointed that they did not measure up to my mom. What I didn’t realize is that I was a three-year-old trying to shove square and circle blocks into a star shaped hole; I couldn’t find someone to fill my mom’s absence because no one could fill my mom’s absence. These women weren’t here to stop the pain of losing my mom; they were here to help me live with it. Though their love would never be exactly like my mom’s, it was unwavering and pure to the core.
I have been unbelievably blessed to have such strong and inspiring women pushing me through the past four years.They are the reason why I continue to be positive, kind, and open to the world. I owe my success and my accomplishments to your guidance and advice. You continue to go above and beyond for me whenever I have needed your help; I know that wherever she is my mom is forever grateful to have you all by my side. The fears of the future that I carry you have offered to carry with me. I no longer feel alone in my grief because it is yours as well.
To my mother’s sisters: May, Sandy, Denise, Krissy, Angie, Susan. Words cannot express how grateful I am for your devotion and enduring love. You are all unique in that you carry a special part of my mother in each of your hearts. To my grandmas Paw Paw and Ma Hanson: you started as my mother’s champions and role models and I’m proud to call you mine as well. To Michele: you continue to be a sister to me and a constant shoulder to cry on; you were so dear to my mom and always will be. To the Chilton ladies: Karen, Maria, Megan, Sheila, Leslie, and Sheila McCarthy. I want to not only thank you for the late nights reading my college essays, taking me prom shoe shopping, having me over for dinners or planning block parties together; I want to thank you for being some of my mother’s best friends. To Elissa and Mercedes, my mother’s fierce and fabulous pair, I will always cherish our lunches together. You are a thoughtful reminder of my mom’s personality and I continue to see so much of her in the two of you.
Though I only have the space to mention a few of the women that inspire me, I want to thank every single mother who has touched me and come into my life. Whether you are a friend, colleague, or relative of my mom’s, I have nothing but love and gratitude for your contribution to the person I have become. Your support has helped a wound that has long been open slowly begin to heal. I could not be where I am today, living joyfully in spite of what has happened, without all of you.
So to all the mothers of the world, I send my best wishes on a day meant to celebrate your hard work, dedication, and enduring commitment. To the mothers in my world, I send one final thank you for making a motherless daughter feel unconditionally loved.