It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Growing up, my mom always made Valentine’s Day a special day for her only daughter. Even when I was in college, she would send me a little care package of gifts filled with girly things: a pretty nightgown (red, of course), a pink bear, hair accessories, fun jewelry, and chocolate. Always some chocolate. It was something she did just for me, her little girl, and I’ve never forgotten that. I do the same for my little Valentines, but there isn’t as much pink.
Mom has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s been thirteen years since she’s passed, and I’ve aged from 39 to 51. A lot has happened in those thirteen years: kids growing (Turner was 7 and Jackson was 4 when she died) and leaving, life-changing accidents, milestone birthdays, career changes, friendships gained and lost, deaths, births.
Her not being here has gotten “easier;” that is, it’s become more the new normal. But in many ways, it has gotten harder. At 39, with two young boys, I pretty much had my adult life ahead of me. I was secure in the knowledge of my place in the world. I didn’t have many limitations, physical or otherwise, money was good, being a mom was still relatively new.
Thirteen years later, I don’t have her here to talk about how it felt to say goodbye to me, to watch me grow and leave home, and how she coped with that new normal. She’s not here for me to apologize to for not being more aware of how painful that likely was, as it is for me.
She’s not here for me to ask how she dealt with becoming older. Yes, my hair is, by choice, gray now, but there’s so much more. It’s coming to terms with life going on despite that, despite feeling more tired, gaining weight by thinking about food, not sleeping, hot flashes, regrets, and realizing that for certain things, the time has simply passed and they are out of my grasp.
It’s going on in spite of all this and having the energy and positivity to do it. Some days are harder than others, and I miss having that woman, who loved me more than anyone ever will, tell me it will be okay, that I’M okay. I miss not having the opportunity to hear how SHE managed it: the empty nest, marriage to my dad for the majority of her life and the difficult later years due to his alcoholism, the aging, the regrets.
I have a feeling that if I did have the opportunity to speak with my mom, her response would not be especially insightful or earth-shattering, but it would be this: “Sometimes it sucks, but you go on.” You keep going, you keep looking for, and finding, opportunities to laugh and be grateful. You keep loving and praying. You be with what is. And you always send valentines on Valentine’s Day. And eat the chocolate. Definitely eat the chocolate.
Thank you, Mom, for being my first and Valentine, and for always making me yours. Thank you for showing me love in all the phases of your life. Even now.