I’ve never experienced pain like I felt when I lost my mother. People who haven’t experienced it will not understand until they feel it themselves.
A mother is special. A mother is irreplaceable. That bond. There is nothing to compare to it.
I knew my mother before I was born. She is deeply set in my memories. Her heartbeat and muddled voice were the first sounds my developing mind ever heard. She held me in her belly before anyone had the chance to place me in their arms. She was the only familiar one I met when entering into my new life. The only one that needed no introduction. The only one I had ALWAYS known.
It was her voice singing me lullabies. Her face peering into my crib hour after hour, night after night. She woke repeatedly to feed me, change me, bring me comfort if she could figure out how.
I was a fussy baby so this bond was very strong because she had to spend extra time holding, bouncing, swaying, rocking, singing, patting, burping, feeding, smiling, crying, breathing calmly while she wept furiously in exhaustion so I wouldn’t sense her fear.
She continued to grow in patience, strength, and love as I grew in inches, pounds, and feet. No matter where I wandered or wondered, her watchful heart was with me. No matter what I said or did, she loved me openly, loudly, without conditions.
She was the one who did the most so she was the one who took the most blame. When my rowdy teenage years hit, this woman who was in charge of figuring me out, well, she just couldn’t. So, of course, in my desperate state, I blamed her. I blamed her for not fixing me. I blamed her because I was broken though she tried every possible thing to mend my broken heart.
I couldn’t see how much love was in every gentle nudge and hard shove that led me in the right direction until I became a mother myself. Looking down at my baby who was crying in that crib, I’d wondered if she felt the same. The overwhelming amount of affection and protection that are born in a mother when given a child to care for. She had it, I have it, we bonded again. This time as mother’s, the two of us.
Then I moved away to try to keep my family together, for the first time my hard heart missed someone. Not my hero, my daddy. Not my best friend, my sister. But the woman I was just starting to know as she really was. My mother. I missed my mother.
I remember the first time that missing someone brought me to tears. I got sick and used chest rub and the smell overwhelmed me. Euphoric recall of some sort set in. I felt like a child. I remembered the soothing sense that came as my mother rubbed it on my chest and sang over my bed. I finally missed her. I finally knew her. I finally appreciated her as ALL of the memories flooded in.
Then the bad news came. I was desperate to keep her. Desperate to be with her. It just wasn’t possible. They said she had 6 months. I was on my way to the airport. She died before we got on the plane.
I felt shame and guilt like never before. Impossible for my softened heart to bear. I felt like I’d hurt her. I owed her my LIFE, literally. I was supposed to be there. All of the years I had struggled while blocking out her voice must have felt like torture.
I heard that as she lay dying she hallucinated about me. About myself and my children being in that room. That thought killed me inside knowing how badly she wanted me and sadly, I wasn’t there. Later on, I reflected, I felt grateful for her imaginings. To her, we really were there.
The most powerful thing I inherited from my mother was not money. I got her fire and strength. And as I battle real demons, as I fight for my own, I intend to use it. Without hesitation.
She’s with me when I need her still. Butterflies and red birds appear every time I feel weak. Every lesson she taught me flooded back to me.
Her words have been uncovered, once buried in my subconscious, no longer lost under resentments and fear.
I miss her every day. I will never be able to thank her. No one with a great mom can truly repay what’s been freely offered. The sacrifices, the hours, the damage to her body, the exhaustion on her spirit, I cannot repay. But, I can do my best to be as loving as she was with my babies whom she loved as much as she loved me.
I’ll repay her by being the woman she raised me to be. I’ll repay her by making her proud one more time by being her reflection, using the lessons and gifts she gave me to make the lives of her grandchildren great. By making the life of her baby girl great. By being happy, joyous, and free as I was when she rocked me in her arms as a child. Because, as a mother I know, that is our one greatest desire. For our children to be whole and happy as I finally am. Because of her.
Even as I sit here now without her I realize, she gave me everything I need. She protected me by teaching me how to protect myself and anyone else that I feel needs protection. I suppose she did as I have done. Whispering promises into an infants ears. I won’t fail because of her. She never failed me.
I was crying on the steps as a blue bird came near. Honestly. It sat close by. Closer than a wild bird should. It looked at me. It stayed still. Then I smiled and said, “I love you” outloud. THAT is when it flew away.
Thank you, Momma.