Thoughts on my first Mother’s Day

Leading up to my first Mother’s Day has been surrounded by mixed feelings. this day is the most bittersweet of moments. The last couple years I’ve dreaded, even avoided, this day. I’ve stayed off social media, opted out of emails that advertise for Mother’s Day, and mourned quietly by writing letters I know she’ll never read.

But of course this year is different. I went from navigating life without a mother to navigating life as a mother.

Becoming a mom is the most beautiful things that’s ever happened to me and I feel so lucky that Hendrix chose me to be his mama. But my mom should be here, too. This was supposed to be a day we had together. I can’t help but feel wronged and robbed by the fact that she’s not here. There is truly nothing that can heal the pain of knowing she’ll never meet my son and never be called grandma.

Life is a precious thing. The loss of a life can leave your heart completely shattered, and a new life can make it feel like there’s more room for love in your heart than you ever thought possible. I often feel like I’m still picking up the pieces after losing my mom, but Hendrix does a hell of a good job of making my heart feel whole again.

I’ve always known my mom loved me deeply, but having a child of my own really puts it into perspective. It’s like watching your heart live outside of your body. In some ways, I understand and feel her love more now than ever.

I want to end this blog post by sharing a letter I wrote to my mom on my first Mother’s Day without her in 2021. Happy heavenly Mother’s Day mom. We miss you a whole damn lot down here.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom,

Today was cold and rainy, the irony of the weather blankets the day with gloom. The thought crossed my mind that you’re sad today too, hence the weather.

I like to think you’re the one who gave us a white Christmas. I like to think you’re the one who stopped the rain on that April afternoon, though steady rain was predicted all day, blue skies broke through right as we pulled up to visit you. But today it was all snow and rain, all day.

It was standing outside of Flowerama in a ridiculously long line (how could all these people be so last minute?) with snow gathering on the top of my umbrella, bouncing up and down slightly to keep warm when I realized just how much this totally sucks without you.

Mother’s Day. Motherfucking Mother’s Day.

All the people waiting in line around me are going to return to warm homes with their balloons and flowers and chocolates and greet their moms who have large smiles plastered on their faces. Their moms will react, say thank you and hug their kids before heading to the kitchen to look for a vase.

Instead we’ll go to the cemetery. We’ll stand out in the cold as long as we can tolerate, sticking the flower planter in the ground at the head of your grave. We won’t get to see your reaction. We won’t get wrapped up in one of your famous hugs. We won’t get to see your perfect smile that you never even needed braces for.

All of these people had waited until last minute to find something for their mom, but we hadn’t waited until the last minute. We always go to the flower shop right before visiting you. I hated being grouped in with these people. I feel so much different than them all.

Remember Mother’s Day last year? It was just you and me. We didn’t know it would be your last. I wanted you to have the perfect day. Of course you remember it was during the lockdown, all the more reason to deliver some curated happiness to you. I know you wanted to get breakfast from our favorite local bakery &Grain. But of course they’re closed on Sundays. Instead I got you those blueberry pancakes from the Westfield Diner.

A few days before I went to Home Depot to pick out flowers, tulips from me and an orchid from Tyler. I feel like we’d get you an orchid every year, whether it was Mother’s Day or your birthday or Valentine’s Day, but you could never keep them alive. It’s funny though, that orchid from last Mother’s Day is still alive today.

I ordered us Red Lobster for dinner (you mentioned wanting a lobster dinner for Mother’s Day and this was the only way I could deliver on that). In the evening I baked carrot cake, one of your favorites, and we watched shows into the night.

I’m writing you this letter so we can both feel a little better about your first heavenly Mother’s Day. I so badly want this year to be like it was last year, but that can’t happen anymore. Maybe we should do this every year? I’ll write you a letter every Mother’s Day, you can see how much better I’m doing, year after year. You can see how my love for you will never fade, year after year.

You were meaningful to so many people. Your impact ranged so far, so wide. I’ve always counted myself lucky to have you as a mom, as I’ve said before I never had to look far for a role model. Thinking of your life cut short brings heat to my face, you had so much more to do. So much more impact to make.

It was either late May or early June of last year you said yourself as we sat wading on inflatables in the pool that you wanted to start to make a point to give back and be of service. You said how you had already reached your family and your career goals, this was the goal you wanted to accomplish next. Who knew that you would do so in death with the endowment established in your name to support minority students in the media industry, with the numerous donations to the American Heart Association.

And who knew that through death, your impact would grow as a force inside of me. I have this need to talk about you, for everyone to know you. They’re all missing out, I’m missing out. I’ve learned that I have this intrinsic desire to turn pain into purpose, and I now know that’s through telling the story of you, the story of you and me, through me.

I hope to live the rest of my life emboldening your meaning through the way I create my own. But really, this letter has nothing to do with all that. This letter is about you, your words, your encouragement and support. Much of the above paragraphs would never even be if it weren’t for you.

You never asked me to tone down my creativity or imagination. You kept the craft closet stocked when I was a kid. You bought me my first notebook, and many of the ones that followed. You questioned my choice to major in the sciences, saying you always thought I would do something with writing. I think I remember you being unsurprised and excited at the news of me adding English as a second major. You’ve read damn near everything I’ve written, including my master’s thesis cover to cover.

You are the reason I am the strong black female I have become. You are the reason I recognize the power of my own voice, the uniqueness of my thoughts and expressions. You are the only reason it has been and continues to be possible to wholeheartedly pursue my dreams. I love you endlessly, eternally.

Forever + a day,