We’re just a couple days away from Mother’s Day, a day to honor and celebrate moms, and grandmas, and aunts who raised us, and the women we know who are doing a spectacular job of mothering. It’s a day of breakfast in bed, made by dads or other moms, and little hands, a day of flowers and jewelry, a day of sappy cards, maybe a day at Disneyland, or a day just relaxing in the back yard.
But for many, Mother’s Day is also pretty tough. I’ve watched Facebook over the last few days. A good friend and teammate is reeling from the loss of her grandma, the matriarch of their family, just two weeks ago. A friend of mine from junior high, who lost both her mother and grandmother three years ago, posted a picture of Winnie the Pooh, her mom’s favorite character, and talked about how hard this time of year is for her. My volleyball coach from 9th and 10th grades posted pictures of his mom with his children, with the sentiment that it has been 5 years that she’s been gone, but that it seems so much longer. My cousin texted me, “Mother’s Day sucks” as she will be “celebrating” the third Mother’s Day without her mom. And this year, Mother’s Day, May 11th, will be the one-year anniversary of the death of my father. Big, heavy sigh.
It’s quite the tightrope walk, isn’t it? On Mother’s Day, I will wake up with a heavy heart. I will remember each and every detail of May 11th, 2013. I won’t dwell on it, but it will still be there. On these days, it’s like we’re wearing sunglasses. We see our lives unfolding before us. We will experience joy, honest, true joy, on this holiday… but all through the lens of feeling loss. It’s a tightrope walk between joy and suffering. Those of you who know loss know that this is true. Suffering. And yet, my girls will have cards and presents for me. I will be so loved and cherished. And I will gush all my love right back on them. We will meet my mom at the cemetery. We will cry. But then we will go back to her home, where we were on this day last year with him. But this time we will swim in the pool. We will build the new desk she bought for her office. I’ll remember the time I bought her the Mother’s Day card that read: You’ve been just like a mother to me. Oops. And we’ll laugh. And give her presents. And eat good food. And maybe make homemade ice cream.
Because that’s what we have to do. We have to suffer well. My cousin said that my dad would be mortified if he knew I was going to have a crappy Mother’s Day because of him, but I also think that there would be a part of him that would be happy to be missed, oh so dearly. So we suffer well.
Many of my friends have told me that after 3 years, after 10 years, after 15 years, they still miss their parents, that once the first year is over, it isn’t necessarily “all better,” like society tells us it will be. But life doesn’t have to be all better. We learn to experience joy, to love our children, to laugh at movies, to enjoy our partners. So we suffer well.
We know that our loved ones are “in a better place.” We take solace that they are in heaven where there is no more pain. We rejoice that we will one day be reunited with them. And yet, the hole that they have left in our hearts is still vacant, never to be filled. So we suffer well.