Muddling Through Mother’s Day

A hard holiday has a silver lining

For some reason, I guess, I thought Mother’s Day would be OK. My mom and I weren’t especially sentimental, I reasoned, and we hated Hallmark holidays. We never did anything special for Mother’s Day, really, so it shouldn’t be any worse than any other day. And it wasn’t even my first Mother’s Day without her. 

But the first was less than a week after her sudden death, and I was too much in shock to feel much of anything but numb. 

Anyway, if I thought it would be easy, or at least not pure agony, I was wrong. Way, way wrong. 

Coming on the heels of the anniversary of her death, Mother’s Day absolutely kicked my ass. 

I spent most of the day crying while driving around aimlessly (so my kids wouldn’t see how sad I was), thinking jealous thoughts about people who either still had mothers or at least had siblings to mourn with, or curled up in the fetal position watching a documentary about the murder of Laci Peterson (which isn’t even one of my true crime obsessions and I definitely think less of myself for watching it). I opened Facebook a few times out of habit and then X’d out immediately, not emotionally able to witness glowing testimonies of maternal love.  

Near the end of the day, I was lying on the sofa, halfheartedly doing a crossword puzzle on my phone, when Georgia came over to me. 

“I’m sorry you’re so sad, Mommy,” she said. “I miss Gigi, too.”

“I know, baby,” I said, almost dismissively, because I felt like I couldn’t handle her sadness in addition to my own at that particular moment. “Go on and brush your teeth and get ready for bed.”

She left, and I heard the door to the linen closet open and close. 

“You don’t need clean sheets, boo,” I yelled. “I just changed your sheets. Go on and brush your teeth like I asked.”

But then she was there by my side, holding an afghan my mom had knitted. My mom got super into knitting during the pandemic and knit these very handmade-looking blankets for all of us – Milo included. I’d stashed them all in the linen closet ages ago because we really didn’t need five blankets, and I’d never really taken them back out.

She laid the blanket over me and said, “Maybe you can pretend this is just like Gigi hugging you since she made it for you.”

Of course I started crying again, even though I’d thought I was all out of tears. 

Somehow, in my haze of grief, which is possibly the most self-absorbed state of mind there is, I had forgotten that Mother’s Day wasn’t just about the mother I had lost. It was about the daughters I was raising, not just about the past but also about the future.

And on that point, at least, yesterday was a success. So Mother’s Day was painful, yes … but it ended on a note of pure joy. 

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