There’s an unholy trinity, of sorts, that we all know. The three dates on the calendar we all dread: her birthday, the day she died, and Mother’s Day. The first two are yours to cope with any way you’d like; short of a phone call from family or your closest friends, the outside world doesn’t know the significance of the day. You can celebrate, grieve, or simply hide.
On Mother’s Day, though, there’s no hiding. It’s a cruel joke of a parade, amplified tenfold by Facebook and every other stream of media surrounding you—friend after friend singing the praises of their wonderful mother, smiling next to her with mimosas at brunch this morning, telling the world they “don’t know what they would do without her.”
Well, we know what we do without her. We wander, we seethe, and we grieve. We harbor no ill will towards those lucky enough to brunch with Mom; hell, that was us one, five, ten, or twenty years ago. It’s a beautiful thing to see, the joy of a mother and her children, and seeing beautiful things is never bad; it’s just that now, we’ve been initiated into a club whose entry is as excruciating as it is unwanted. We can’t go back to those days of cards and dinner and visits and an annual recitation of gratitude. We can now only watch stoically or turn away and stay occupied for the day in our well-rehearsed routine of avoidance.
At least we have each other, right? It’s a small consolation, but it’s something. The more senior members of the club are the only ones who can reach the new inductees. Like a host of other personal tragedies, you have to have lived it to understand. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like…” No, you can’t. It’s ok. Just go enjoy yours while you can and I’ll be here when your day comes.
There is one thing, though, I’ve learned to treasure in this world without Her. Only when she was no longer physically present in my life could I truly begin to appreciate the influence she had on it. Only when a quest for acceptance forced me to frantically search for pieces of her that still remained in our world could I realize how much of her was still alive in myself. The form having changed, of course, the soul was no less present. I let her carry it while she was here, and now I carry it with me.
Although it’s easier said than done, I now mark Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate the continuation of her spirit. More than any other day, I try to do what she would do, say what she would say—just be how she would be. I make today the one day the world sees Annette a little more than the others. It’s still a long path to finding peace with her absence, but for one day, this day, I can give thanks for the realization that I’m not alone on it.