Mother's Day Without Mom

Where to start? Where to stop? I suppose I should post a warning that this post may ramble some, or perhaps it will make some sense. 

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. The first without my Mom and likely the last with my beloved Nanny. I am numb to what I will feel next year or in two years. And that is normal. A griever is able to do many things the first few months after a death without truly acknowledging emotions. 
 
I’m in the process of deconstructing my Mom’s house – having yard sales, beginning to sale items or decide what I would like to keep. I do this until emotions hit me – like when I gathered her everyday Correl dishes (some of which I bought her) and place them on the kitchen counter. I then have to stop because she loved the set and we had many meals together. She made ice tea for the pitcher. It was hers. I do not plan on keeping it. I will eventually sell the set but I can’t do it right now. 
 
I am taking care of myself tomorrow and do not plan on attending church where the pomp and circumstance will be all about the living mothers. The history behind Mother’s Day is that it was created to acknowledge the mothers which have passed in the past year. Sadly, our society has turned it into a money making holiday. No one wants to hear about the mothers who are not present. I take comfort in knowing the original meaning behind the holiday. 
 
When one loses anyone – be it a parent, spouse, child – they become a member of a club that no one wants to belong to. I’ve joined many groups over the years – I pledged my sorority,  was invited to the Honor Society, joined the Junior League. Those are items that you are proud to associate yourself with –  you wear your letters, place associations on your resume. 
 
Where in your life does one place this club of losing a parent? I’ve been a member of this club for many years. When I was younger I didn’t like to talk about it, It wasn’t something I shared until I absolutely had to. One always received the looks and the reality is that death and grief make people uncomfortable. 
 
There are kind people in the world – those who think they are being supportive with what they say. However, it is only others who belong in this club that understand. 
Today, my beautiful friend Brandy sent me flowers in honor of tomorrow and another friend sent me a text message letting me know she was thinking of me and reminding me to take care of myself. These woman are also members of this club. I’ve walked this walk with them and they are doing the same with me. I am blessed to have them in my life. I’ve told both of them I only hope I’ve been half as good of a friend to them as they have been to me. 
 
As I continuously state, I know that what I am experiencing is normal. I’ve had some thoughts about others who haven’t lost anyone to death and yet sometimes act as if they understand. (I heard that story many times as a counselor). I know that people do not say things in malicious ways but for those not in the club – they do not realize how their words can come across. I feel I have to add that actually nothing has been said to me directly but I’ve been watching people from a far who want to come across as if they understand or know. I’m also dealing with some friends who I simply haven’t heard from. 
 
I would remind my clients that they were the experts on grief. As a counselor I have the credentials and knowledge but it was my clients who came to my office and helped me to gain more insight. As a result I was able to pass my knowledge along to others and now to myself. I’m reminding myself how to deal with the emotions that I feel in regards to others. 
 
Several years ago, I had an extremely difficult Father’s Day. I was moody, didn’t want to do anything and just hated life that day. Somewhere during the day I was able to make the connection to my emotions and the holiday. By that time I had marked numerous Father’s Days without my Dad. Nonetheless, it didn’t mean that I didn’t have a right to grieve what I was missing. 
 
We grieve for our loved one for the rest of our life. The most acute grief and mourning is after the death but grief isn’t something that you pack up and put in a nice pretty box in the closet. There will be moments when you want your loved one with you – perhaps on a Holiday which is celebrated publicly or perhaps it will be a random time when you are watching a TV show or a song comes on the radio. All of this is normal.
 
When my Mom was diagnosed one of the thoughts which came to me was “I’ve loved her enough”. I loved her enough while she was living and she knew and never doubted my love. I recently thought the same in regards to my Nanny. We do not end a phone conversation without saying we love each other. That is how I did with my Mom. I have peace in knowing this. Sadly, many people struggle with this after a death. They were too busy to pick up the phone or go for a visit. 
 
My husband and I moved back to Lexington from Louisville after I completed graduate school in part because I wanted to be close to my Mom and Nanny. I’m thankful for the years that we had together. 
 
At my Mom’s funeral I spoke her eulogy and share the following. 
 
I take comfort in the following excerpt regarding redwood trees in Muir Woods, taken from the book of Motherless Daughters.  For those who have never seen a redwood tree, the redwood forests are home to trees that have branches that grow higher than houses and cars can drive through them.
“As we shuffled through the ferns and sorrel, we reached a small, odd group of redwoods, growing in a circle around a charred stump. The burned trunk stood maybe six feet high but the trees surrounding it were young and healthy. Park rangers call these clusters “ the family circle.” The less botanically inclined usually call them –   the mother and her daughters. 
Nature often offers metaphors more elegant than any we can manufacture, and Muir Woods is an example. Redwoods have evolved to turn disaster into opportunity. In these coastal forests, death produces life.
In the redwood ecosystem, buds for future trees are contained in pods- called burls, tough brown knobs that cling to the bark of the mother tree. When the mother tree is logged, blown over or destroyed by fire – when in other words – she dies – the trauma stimulates the burls growth hormones. The seeds release and trees sprout around her, creating the circle of daughters or family circle. These trees grow by absorbing the sunlight their mother cedes to them when she dies. And they get the moisture and nutrients they need from their mother’s root system, which remains underground even after her leaves die.  Although they exist independently of their own mother above ground, they continue to draw sustenance from her underneath.
 
I am no where near knowing how to live in this world without my Mother and I truly felt I would have my Nanny for awhile longer. However, the above story brings me comfort. They have already given me strength and knowledge. I have their powerful root system underneath me. I am not nor will I be motherless because they are there. 
 
I just wish I had learned to make my Mom’s dressed eggs.
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