Hello, Old Friend
It matters not if your mother has been gone for six weeks, six years or sixty-four years, as mine has. A mother’s love was our first love and remains that anchor always.
Sometimes unexpectedly, I will feel an ache deep inside that sits heavy like a boulder and has the makings of an avalanche. I go about my day, my life, as if there was no weight upon my heart, but my insides recognize this visitor. I am reminded of it, this faint knowledge that it’s almost Mother’s Day, and I hope the rockslide of emotions don’t start. I want to stay the course and keep everything in its place.
I love being a mother, myself, although I have endured times of angst as I stumbled along trying to do “it” right. Being a mother and grandmother has been my biggest blessing. My daughters have grown up right before my eyes and no longer make me macaroni angels or hand painted plaques that say, “Prayer Changes Things.” They are always so good to shower me with gifts and thoughtful cards that I save in a big box, safely tucked away. Someday, when I am gone, they will find it and laugh at me for saving so much, but that’s alright, I could not bear to throw away their words or thoughtfulness.
Yet, when it comes to Mother’s Day, I fall silent. I feel uncertain of what to do with myself and I am deeply aware that the sadness I feel is not in aligned with the way most of the world thinks.
I want to cry and sit alone with my sadness. I want to look at pictures and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine. And, at the same time I want to go with my daughters for a long walk among flowers and beautiful trees, feeling the sunshine on our faces, confirming I am alive. My feelings are a contrast as day is to night.
I want to celebrate my mother. I want to celebrate being a mother and my daughter being a mother. But there’s that ache deep inside that wants nothing to do with sunshine, long walks or brunch. That ache says, “You’re alone, so be alone. No one understands anyway.” That ache makes me separate and odd because I hurt on a day others feel joy and gratitude.
I’ve long ago made sense of being left motherless. I understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and more than that, I understand that this ache will not kill me. While there are times I thought it might, it has become an old friend, although unwanted, that is familiar and will retreat after a time. This old ache will go back to where it lives, underneath my heart, lodged over to the side. But it will come back another time, perhaps unannounced, smaller in size.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, as that is not what I want. I know I am okay. I am not alone on this motherless journey; I know there are far too many who travel with me. I want them to know it is fine to have feelings that go back and forth. It is okay to have the ache and still want the sunshine. It will not always hurt this bad, so go ahead and feel. God in His wisdom has given us the ability to see both sides, to feel both sadness and sunshine.
“And gradually his memory slipped a little, as memories do, even those with so much love attached to them; as if there is an unconscious healing process within the mind which mends up in spite of our desperate determination never to forget.”
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds