Remembering loss & celebrating love on Mother’s Day

Squealing and squirming
Exploring the garden.
Hand in hand.
Bow-less and pigtail-less.

 

It’s been 20 years since my mom passed away from breast cancer, and yet I still get emotional on Mother’s Day. Every year I tell myself that I should be over it, that the tears of loss should be dried up by now.

This year, I tried letting the mascara run without remorse. I felt both the sadness of my mother’s passing and the joy of my own passage into motherhood. I approached Mother’s Day as a time for remembrance and celebration, a reminder that loss and love can coexist without one having to replace the other.

Having a daughter of my own, with another baby on the way, makes me feel both closer and farther away from my own mom. Closer because I now appreciate her on a much deeper and relatable level, and farther away because I can’t ask her questions about motherhood or about what I was like as a baby.

I make sense of these paradoxes through writing. For so long, my mother has been my muse. And now, so too is Madelyn — my strong, beautiful and vivacious daughter.

Madelyn squealed and squirmed when we tried posing for Mother’s Day pictures, so we opted for candids instead. She’s always finding ways to deepen my appreciation for unplanned and unposed moments of happiness. When you lose a parent as a child, you wonder if you’ll ever experience those moments again. Becoming a parent years later reminds you that it’s possible. The cyclical nature of life is healing.

Mother’s Day morning, shortly after throwing a teary tantrum, Madelyn grabbed my hand and her grandma’s and guided us on a toddler-size tour of my mother-in-law’s garden. Smiling, I thought about how it was my favorite Mother’s Day gift of all.

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