Saturday, May 10, 2014

Missing Mom


Mother's Day is just another Hallmark holiday.
Mother's Day is just another Hallmark holiday.

I try to just repeat that to myself this year, but it's hard amidst all the cute commercials showing happy dads and kids bringing Mom breakfast in bed or touching scenes with three generations of moms sharing a hug.

As a mom, I don't really expect anything on Mother's Day. Again, I feel like it's one of those made-up holidays that pushes people into buying gifts with money they don't have, or acknowledging a day originated by a company that needed to make money in the month of May.

But it exists, and it's a hard day to get through nonetheless. Especially this year.

Regardless about how you feel about Mother's Day, you can't get through the day without either thinking about your own mother or the time you have spent as a mother. This year, I have the dubious distinction to be able to do both, as I spend my first Mother's Day without a mom as well as without one of my children.

I was unfortunate enough to lose my mother to cancer just over two months ago. However, at times I felt I lost her way before that - in June of 2013, after she had her first aneurysm and brain surgery. She wasn't herself; the surgery had damaged arteries in her brain that contributed to who she was. After a subsequent aneurysm and surgery not six weeks later, the surgeon had to sacrifice a major artery that he "wasn't sure what it controlled," and it was his "hope" that the other arteries would come through and compensate. But that would take time. Time we didn't know she didn't have, because while she was recovering from brain surgery, the cancer that we thought was lying dormant was unbeknownst to us ravaging her inside.

She still had a grip. Not surprising.
However, during the period of June, 2013 until March of 2014, I spent a lot of time with my mom. A LOT. Like every day. Sometimes there was silence as she slept. Sometimes I'd just hold her hand and we'd watch HGTV. But we also had some good talks, especially when it was just the two of us. And even though she wasn't always in the present day, she always knew who I was and understood what I was talking about, especially when it came to my kids.

From her hospital bed, she would respond as I somewhat guiltily told her of my parenting struggles. She had them, too. She understood. She still offered her advice and I was amazed that through the fog that was her surgeon-manipulated brain that she was able to share the pearls of wisdom that I had come to rely on from her. She was still Mom.

When we were told January that the time for hospice had arrived, I was gently reminded by friends that it would be now that I would have these special moments and tell her everything I needed to tell her. To let her know how much I loved her and what a good mom she had been.

Every night she read to me. 


But what those people didn't realize is that I already had. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I already had. I had matured enough from the rebellious teen and the apathetic, selfish 20-something year old into the 40-something mom with two kids who now GOT IT. Wow, Mom. You did good. You were an amazing mother. Knowing the struggles I have had raising my two boys, I am beside myself with awe in how you raised the four of us. And you did it right. You did it the right way.

My mom and me, 2011.
I never felt as if I was not  loved. I may have had the balls to talk back to you a few times, but I always respected you. And after I had kids of my own, I admired you. I relied on you. I trusted you. And you never, ever disappointed me, even as you lay in that hospital bed with tubes in your arms and medications running through your body and a brain that had been through the wringer. You never, ever disappointed me. In fact, you amazed me every single day with your strength, your resilience and your acceptance, and I believe my love and respect for you grew more in those last few months than ever.

You're not here now, Mom, and I so need you to be. I miss you so incredibly much. I still find myself thinking, "I need to call Mom about this" or "Wait until I tell Mom," then like a sucker punch I realize the harsh reality that I can only do it in my prayers. It sucks going through uncharted parenting waters without a captain at the helm. You were my captain.

I know you're up there looking down on me, Mom. I know you're watching me and guiding me as I go through some very difficult parenting challenges, and that is the only comfort I gain when I wake up every morning and "remember" that you're no longer on this earth.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You know I love you, and you know I think that you were the most wonderful mom. My world is truly not the same without you.

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