It’s Mother’s Day and I am filled with a tender longing that never really leaves me, only swells larger every May. There are countless books, blog posts, and podcasts that encourage us, motherless daughters, to celebrate our missing moms or sit with our grief in hopes of calming that anxiety that threatens to destroy us.
It’s suggested to talk about your mother; say her name aloud, share memories (if you have them), and honor her in some meaningful way. I’ll probably call my big brother because he knew her best. He is my only link to her, my lifeline of memories. Over the years his memories have become mine, for which I will forever be grateful.
When I was younger, the loss of my mother felt like I was floundering in outer space, not tethered in any way. I was slipping away and there was no one to catch hold and ground me. As I have aged, my grief feels more like a heavy wool blanket that suffocates me under the weight of sadness.
My mother’s name is Margaret. Margaret Arminta Lane Claughton. She is laid to rest next to my father in the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, Texas, where she has resided since 1958. A lifetime ago.
If I lived there still, I would take flowers to her grave. But, since I don’t and I know she isn’t really there and there is no flower delivery to Heaven, I will buy flowers for myself in her honor, which is something I have never done before.
My girls are coming over for a late lunch on Saturday. We’re celebrating Mother’s Day and my birthday, which feels okay given the space I am sometimes in. I want to sob and throw a fit, and selfishly sit and stare completely immobilized. But I always try to rally where my girls are concerned and welcome their intent to honor me, and I genuinely want to honor them. After all, I tell myself, we are among the living. “Let the dead bury the dead.”
I’m grateful for my sweet daughters, yet I miss having a mother, even sixty-five years later, I struggle.
I remember being the only one in my elementary class who didn’t have a mother, and as we sat at our desks with crayons and paper, I was embarrassed as we made our annual Mother’s Day cards. I sat silently coloring away at a card I did not want to make. I gave mine to my dad and we took it to the cemetery on Sunday after church. I was the only child without a mother and yet we all had to make a card. I hope things have changed by now, and while I don’t think my teachers meant to be insensitive, the aftereffects were far-reaching and have stayed with me to this day.
There are other little girls in this world, even older girls and women who are facing this first Mother’s Day without their mother. I have no sage advice. No ‘10 Steps to Honor and Grieve Your Mother.’ My journey has not been neat and tidy. It has been and still is messy and heartbreakingly overwhelming at times.
I find that when I am honest and let my heart feel what it needs to, I am sooner to breathe and feel a sigh of relief that everything will be okay. Sitting in a quiet, calm place, I put my hand over my heart and whisper ‘all is well,’ until I believe it. All is well.
Just for today, just for this Mother’s Day, I will buy my mother the flowers I always wanted to give her. I will set the table with her Dessert Rose dishes and enjoy my daughters and grandson, and it will be enough. Actually, more than enough.
All is well, I whisper to that little girl within me. All is well.