on mothers day

“you have to find a mother inside yourself. we all do.” – sue monk kidd

mothers day pulls at unravelling threads. in her absence I celebrate every mother in my life, just as she did. her spirit is here in birdsong and breezes. we see each other through this life, this loss, this love.

here is my disclaimer: it’s not easy.

I have carried with me a certain expectation of dread as mothers day approaches each year. I want to boycott the holiday altogether and yet for the past five years I have been unsuccessful in doing so. I avoid the card aisles at any cost until that nagging voice (my own) gets the best of me and tells me to suck it up and get something in the mail or it’ll be too late.

(it’s always late, this is my ugly truth.)

so I find myself standing there, dumbstruck at the amount of cards and how excruciatingly painful it is that there is not one card that seems to fit. how does one choose for dementia? how does one pick the words that will be read to her by others? cards for dementia patients should be texturized and fragranced. for these are the triggers, the reminders of life lost, found for a split second in the feel of corduroy or the bloom of a gardenia. but a card like this does not exist, and so I pick from the brightly painted scenes because this is what her eyes will focus on. words are lost but colors remain.

my mother loved hallmark cards. sure, she would take a homemade card and cherish it dearly, but the hallmark cards were the cream of the crop. she bought them in advance (of birthdays, holidays, special occasions) she had a knack for finding the perfect card (this trait has been passed to my own son, which makes me laugh) and therefore she had boxes of cards. my mother was always so prepared. this is what I think of as I stare into space at the card aisle.

it kills me to stand there and see all the humor she would have appreciated. to see the cheesy hallmark sentiments she would mail to me over the years, it’s close to unbearable. my fear, through this exercise, is that I will turn bitter. that I will look at others with jealousy or anger because this sadness is years in the making. and honestly? it’s better to feel nothing than sad anymore. I’m tired of this place and I want to be done with it.

is that grief? perhaps. whatever it is, it’s not so easily explained in public arenas.

and so we line up, these strangers in the aisle of pastel pinks and purples and we dig through cards. I wonder to myself what everyone’s story is. I find some tenderness for myself in knowing that I’m not alone. in this wicked twist of a world, I know now as an adult, that my mother spent all of her adult life without her own mother. she carried on, looking to the women who surrounded her and she celebrated those tiny victories. and that is life. it’s made whole by the collection of tiny love.

and so I celebrate all the moms and stepmoms. all the aunties and sisters. and I hold a place of love for all of us who must find our way without their guidance, our mothers would be proud.