My mom’s been nudging me from all over the universe this week. I miss her so much. Especially, well, especially all the time. But this time of year really gets me, as Mother’s Day approaches.
I know I write about her often; she was such a precious, important person in my life. In “My Mother’s Last Days” from herviewfromhome.com, Amber Shoemaker says about her mother, “I hope she knows she was one of the great loves of my life.” Yes, I thought, this is exactly how I feel about my mom.
I think about my mom daily, intentionally, but every once in a while tiny, specific glimpses of memory come to me. I can see her, at our house in Denver, switching purses for a night out with my dad, as she moves her lipstick and wallet from her everyday brown leather shoulder bag to a shimmery clutch. I remember what a beautiful swimmer she was, gracefully gliding through the water in the big pool at Skyline Acres, which she didn’t do very often, because she hated to ruin her hair. I blink and there she sits at the head of the table with the afternoon sunlight drifting over her as she files her beautiful, long nails. Sometimes I chide myself for those days I still feel intense grief because we all eventually have to say goodbye to our moms, but, as David Ferguson expresses in his essay, “We Don’t Lose Our Mothers – The Reality is Much More Violent Than That” from The Guardian, losing a mother “feels like a wrenching severance, an amputation.” It absolutely does. And he so precisely likens grief to shrapnel working it’s way out of the flesh over time.
When my mom’s death was new I craved the people around me who loved my mom too, I craved the old photos they had of her, the memories and stories they shared with me. I crave them still, because even though it’s been almost five years since she died, some days it feels like it just happened yesterday, this “wrenching severance.” Grief feels like it’s sinking me some days, but eventually I climb my way back out, sometimes just through the cycle of another day; other times a friend reaching out to say she’s thinking of me as Mother’s Day approaches is all the lifeline I need.
Last week my aunt died. She was many things, an aunt, a sister, a grandmother, but most importantly she was my cousin, Will’s, mom. I haven’t been close to my aunt in years, but I love my cousin and I have such wonderful memories of my aunt’s presence in my childhood.
Aunt Kathy was an artist and an intuitive, kind soul. When we would visit Ohio, I used to love to see her because she always did crafts with us. I especially remember the most beautiful cards she made with pressed flowers. Violas will forever remind me of her. When I learned to sew, she gave me gorgeous swatches of fabric to play with. My aunt was easily one of the earliest influencers of my love for creativity and art.
My favorite memory of her is of the Christmas packages she sent us when we were little. Mine was always a special box or tin bursting with tiny, individually wrapped gifts of candy, makeup samples, artist markers and pens. It was like a treasure chest of sparkly beauty, and I savored opening each present. Every Christmas I looked forward to Aunt Kathy’s gift, because it made me feel like she was thinking specifically of me, like she wanted to make me feel loved and unique. She absolutely did.
I share these memories for my cousin. Will, I hope they make you feel not so alone in your grief. And, like Ferguson writes, “ While I don’t ever expect to arrive at a point in life where I’m alright with the fact that my mother is gone, I know that I am so, so lucky to have loved and been loved that much by anyone.”
I hope you all have lovely moments with your moms this Mother’s Day and if she’s no longer with you, I wish you sweet, funny, warm memories to share and cherish.