The other day a guy from college emailed me. He was one of the few people I knew my age who had also lost his mother. One night at a mardi gras party our sophomore year, we had an intense conversation about our mutual loss. After that, we always acknowledged eachother on mother's day. This year, he had heard about Samara and wanted to congratulate me and wish me a happy mother's day. What a crazy thought when, for 13 years, the words "happy" and "mother's day" were mutually exclusive.
The end of April always marked the beginning of the dread: the cards, sappy commercials, email reminders and macaroni necklaces that define the holiday would creep into my consciousness until all I wanted to do was hide under my bed and wait it out. What is a person with no mom supposed to do on the day everyone thanks their own? It seemed so unfair to have to see happy moms and daughters spending the day at brunch, shopping, getting manicures together. No place was safe on mother's day.
Now I am the mom. As I told my friend in my email back to him: having a baby is at once the most healing and the most painful thing I have done since losing my mother. Sometimes i miss her to a sickening degree. When I want to know some detail of my babyhood or feel lonely on a Wednesday afternoon, I imagine I could have called her. She may have had the answers. But the longing I feel is so different now. I am mourning the adult, mother to mother relationship we will never have. My understanding of her loss has grown, too. Now that I know mother love, I know what she must have felt to leave her two daughters at seven and 16, to know that my sister would have such limited memory of all the things she did for and with her.
On the other hand, I have not been this happy since before her death. I have a daughter. It feels like I have spent the last three months gluing the pieces of a broken glass back into place. It may never be crack-free, but it is basically functional. I had a lot of fears around that. Would I be capable of being a mom since I could barely remember what it was like to have one? Now I know I can. And that has been a huge relief.
I have been invited back into a club that rejected me years ago. I still have some of the scars from that rejection and I may never feel 100% comfortable and sadness free when the end of April rolls around. But I am so grateful, beyond grateful in fact, to have this mother-daughter relationship again. I am in awe of my child and thankful everyday for the gift she has given both to me and to my dead mother.
On Sunday we will be at the lake house, celebrating mothers. I will be celebrating my daughter and the family I never thought I would have again. And I hope that one day my friend will find the same healing.