This is 36.
Internet, if I’m being honest and real and allowing myself to share the truth, I spent my thirty-sixth birthday alternately sobbing and feeling sorry for myself. The phone rang with so many lovely well wishes and yet all I could think when someone said “Happy birthday! Hope it’s the best one yet!” was “How could it be the best one yet when my mother is gone?”
Additionally I think the day can best be summed up by stating that I found a gnarly black hair growing under my chin that CLEARLY was long enough to have been there for quite some time. I told Nancy that she and all our girlfriends can all now stop sending group texts amongst each other now wondering when I’m going to find that Thing Growing Out of My Face because OMG I finally found it.
I find that my own words are limited as we are speeding like a bullet train toward the holiday of Mother’s Day. And for someone who has had Diarrhea of the Mouth™ her entire life, that’s saying something. Every mention of this holiday pricks me sharply, like a needle in an open wound. I was grateful for a dear friend who messaged me the day before my birthday to share that when her own mother died, her first birthday after was one of the hardest days of her life. And yes, friend, I get it. I hate that I get it, but I do.
Grief is difficult to describe. It’s feeling pretty good one moment, and then turned upside down the next. It’s almost like the chair underneath you loses a leg and dumps you unceremoniously onto the ground, at the most inconvenient moment. It’s like free-falling.
Now it’s this odd, nebulous moving from what was Life with My Mother to Life Without My Mother. It’s one day being happy and the next being sad, sobbing over my water bottle while sitting in a Weight Watchers parking lot, texting a fellow friend whose mother is also gone.
Grief is this way.
It’s me being asked how I’m doing by others and replying honestly “Ehh. I’m okay. Today was hard.”
It’s allowing the feelings to settle in, bear their weight, mourn alongside them, and then release them, washed down the drain, tears to regenerate and return again sometime soon.
But likewise, grief has exposed in me a greater depth of gratitude for who I am and what I have. What she gave to me as a mother – all of herself, unflinchingly and unreservedly. And I recognize now the power of influence that a mother has, for better or sometimes for worse. I see in myself a greater comprehension of the role I have taken on as mother to my boys. They are everything. This is everything. Love is simply everything.
All these other things we chase – money, social media numbers, success. It matters less and less.
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