As we move through life, there are countless wonderful moments and many that are very difficult. Losing our mothers before they have witnessed their legacy through our children is a devastating loss that many women in the MiM community have experienced. It is for this reason that I was humbly grateful when Samantha, our Guest Author today, volunteered to share her heart on the eve of her First Mother’s Day, having lost her own mother 5 years ago to cancer. She wanted other moms to know that they are not alone if they feel torn on Mother’s Day because of the loss of their mom. Our moms always want what is best for us; even after they pass from this physical world one of the ways we can honor them is to embrace the love of our children even while we are holding the image of our mamas in our mind. xoxo- Candice
When I was a little girl, Mother’s Day was exciting; finally, a special day to show my mom how awesome I thought she was! I’d eagerly pick her flowers from around the neighborhood or make her a special card with construction paper and crayons. My dad would help me make her breakfast, and we’d carefully climb the stairs while I tried so hard not to spill her coffee. Once I even made a little “coupon” book for things I could do- like foot rubs and cleaning my room. And, once I was older and living away from home, sending her flowers was the best.
And it continued to be the best for the rest of the time that I had with her. My mom and I were always close. We were each other’s biggest cheerleaders. She called me her “little apple” because I was so much like her from the very beginning. I never went through a phase, like many kids do, of being embarrassed to be seen in public with my mom. In fact, I wanted her all to myself.
My life was forever changed with one phone call which I received, ironically, ON Mother’s Day. She called to tell me that the breast cancer was back, after almost a decade in remission. She said she felt good, wasn’t scared, trusted her doctor, and was going to fight. It was all going to be ok. That settles that then. I was young, naive, and in denial. I never questioned that she would fight and success was the only option. And she did fight. But cancer is a dark, dirty demon with other plans.
It stings too much and hot tears prick my eyes when I stop to think about how I acted or how I spoke to her at times, especially during her last year with us. I avoided facing my pain and became caught up in my own personal drama which seems so silly now. She was going through literal hell: medical treatments, shots, radiation, lying awake at night talking with my father about if/when it all doesn’t work; yet she was always there for me. I remember visiting her in the ICU a few weeks before she would pass. There she was, fighting for her life, and she commented on the dark purple circles under my eyes and said that she was worried about me. That’s just the type of woman she was.
Eighteen short months after she called me with the terrible news, I received another life-changing phone call; this time from my dad, “You need to come home soon, it won’t be long now.” I was at work. Suddenly the voices around me sounded muffled like I was under water and there was a ringing in my ears and a pounding in my head. This can’t be happening. This can’t be my life. This isn’t fair.
She passed away the next day, no more than four hours after I’d arrived home.
I never thought about what it would be like for her to not be here. I just couldn’t think about it until I had absolutely no choice. And even then, when it stared me in the face as our harsh new reality, I still couldn’t process it because a mother’s love is just too all-encompassing and ever-present. One simply cannot fathom the painful void that will be left in her place, especially when it happens sooner than you could ever imagine.
Over the past 5 years, my reminder of the upcoming holiday has been an email from the flower shop reminding me to send mom flowers; I always intend to unsubscribe but never do. Painfully aware of the significance of the day and respectful of other people’s families, I avoid Facebook and any public places where people might be out celebrating their mothers. While I am happy for them, I don’t need any more reminders that my mom is gone. I feel her absence daily.
She never met my husband or attended our wedding. I couldn’t call her with the news that we were pregnant. She never rubbed my round belly or felt the tiny, forceful kicks from my daughter within. She wasn’t at my doctor’s appointments. She wasn’t in the hospital when I delivered and was terrified, longing to ask her questions about her childbirth experience that I had never thought to ask before. Why didn’t I ask her before??
She wouldn’t be there later, when we arrived home with our teensy 6-pound bundle of joy and were wide-eyed and terrified—but also so, so in love. Or when our daughter had her first fever and it was over a weekend and we panicked a little. Or to share special grandma snuggles with her long-awaited beautiful granddaughter. Or, or, or…
As my daughter gets older I will make sure that she knows her Grammy. Knows what she looked like, knows the sound of her voice, and knows her sense of humor. My mother was cremated and my father, brother and I all have a place in our homes where we honor her and her ashes. We light candles for her on special days. Her photos are all over my house. I seem to mention her daily, without even trying. My husband always says he feels like he knows her because I have talked about her so much. It doesn’t take away the sting of her being gone, but it’s the best I can do.
And here we are: Mother’s Day is here. My first one AS a mother. Will I still feel sad? Of course. Will I be able to celebrate my newfound motherhood? Probably… because here’s the kicker: I can no longer avoid Mother’s Day and pretend that it’s just another Sunday. Because now there is a little, sweet someone who looks at me the way I always looked at my mom. Someday fairly soon, my sweet girl will bring me hand-picked flowers from around the neighborhood, a card made from construction paper and crayons, and breakfast in bed. And I cannot—will not—take those joys away from her.
And I know that if I could talk to my mother right now, the advice she would give would be for me to live my life happily. Love freely. Be in the moment. Laugh with my entire body. And love this little baby with every fiber until it’s my turn to take my very last breath.