The other day, a dear friend asked, “What would you have told your mom today?” Such a simple question, but it was so meaningful. I knew exactly what I would have told Mom that day and I knew exactly how she would have responded. Simple, everyday conversations – nothing earth changing, just normal stuff between a girl and her mom.
There’s a lot of that in my days lately – the things I just want to tell Mom. I would have called her today, because I have the day off and am at home and have time. I also would have called to tell her that I’d emptied some of the flower pots outside and did a bit of clean up. Why? I guess so she would know I wasn’t a complete domestic disaster, but also so I could hear her say, “good job.”
Knowing that my mom was pleased with me has been of such importance to me my entire life. And to be honest, it really didn’t take much – she took such pleasure in all of us kids. And it’s one of the things I miss the most. My mom “seen” me like no one else does. She wanted each one of us to know that we were loved and seen – she never wanted anyone to be left out. This was quite the feat, considering she had 7 children and 23 grandchildren!
My mom was my biggest cheerleader, hands down. Whether that looked like a word of encouragement, some advice or even some well-deserved admonishment, she had only what was best for me in mind. It didn’t matter if I was trying something new or if something she’d seen or heard a hundred times – every time there was acknowledgement. Not big overdone, fluffy compliments – that was not Mom. Not even a little. But always acknowledgment that I’d done something.
I miss that. I mean, it sounds ridiculous as I write it – I’m 44 years old and still need my mom to pat me on the back every time I do something. But after having been loved and supported so well for so many years, it is now a huge hole in my life.
On the flip side, though, there are also areas of my life now where I don’t feel the drive to work as hard at anymore, because Mom won’t find out. Making supper around here has become pretty optional, with a lot of days finding me opting out. She would have been horrified at the amount of times I look at my (fully-grown, mind you) sons and say, “I got nothing. It’s fend for yourself tonight, figure it out.” Maybe that’s because I’m tired – there’s a lot of days that I’m struggling to muster up the energy to get stuff done. Or maybe I just did for all these years because Mom said it was important. I don’t know – guess it’s a good thing these boys are adults and can take care of themselves.
The days have turned into weeks and months, and soon it will be six months since I’ve talked to my mom. The reality of forever is beginning to sink in and there are days, like today, where I almost can’t breathe thinking about it. Most days, things are busy and I will stop to let a couple of tears leak out, but then keep on moving. Today is quiet, so the tears started and don’t seem to be stopping. Which is ok.
Grief expert David Kessler writes this regarding dealing with feelings: “You can’t heal what you can’t feel. Most people are afraid of what I call the “gang of feelings”…its members are anger, sadness, numbness, yearning, shock, and a lot of other hurtful emotions. The fear is that once you open the door to the gang, it will rush in and overwhelm you and you’ll never be able to free yourself of them….If you can allow yourself to feel the pain in all of its depths and cry it out, you might feel very sad, but you would not be overwhelmed by it. Instead, that feeling will move through you and you will be done with it. I’m not saying that you’ll never again feel pain over the death of your loved one. You will. But you gave that particular moment of pain its due. You didn’t resist it and you won’t have to keep reliving it.”
As much as I wish there was a way for this grief to be done and over, I realize it never will be. It will change, it will lighten, but there will always be a part of me that just wants to talk to my mom. Thankful that most days that can be a thought with just a couple of tears, but also accepting that some days need to be like today as well.
The song “To Cry for You” by Carolyn Arends says it well – “Blessed are the ones who weep, ’cause every tear is proof of ties that bind so strong and deep that death cannot undo.” Thankful today for a lifetime of being loved by my mom.