Another Mother’s Day is here and I miss you more than ever. I took for granted how much comfort I felt in my trips back home to Toronto, staying in the house and the bedroom I grew up in as a child. I miss how easily I slept, knowing that I was safe and regressing with ease back into feeling like a kid again.
I miss being woken up by you bringing me coffee and a breakfast sandwich; feeling no sense of urgency to run back to my busy and often complicated life. Being home with you was a way for me to suspend my reality and just be without conformity.
It was only in my later years, close to your death that I started to become aware of who you were as a person, outside the role of mother. I had lived a life, not only being oblivious to your everyday sacrifices but being arrogant with the assumption that my life choices and experiences were superior to yours. Sitting with you as you lay on your deathbed I asked if there was anything I could do for you, in spirit, as if to say that your life was… unfinished in some sort of way. Your answer shocked me: “No. I had a good life. I was happy.” It was at that moment, thinking about the high life and adventures I had that would fill many people’s bucket lists, that I could not say the same thing. I hadn’t known joy or happiness in a very long time.
Mothers are our “entry into the world.” So, when they go, who are we? When you died, I felt as though I had lost my anchor to the earth and that I was hurtling through time and space. Time didn’t feel real. Nothing felt real. I felt empty and winded at the same time like I couldn’t expand my lungs to their full capacity and I had to consciously keep telling myself to breathe.
Grief is a monster that has had me in a chokehold since you left; it has been shape-shifting and relentless. When we talk about the Five Stages of Grief, it’s discussed as if it’s linear in form and that there will eventually be some finality to it; that once you pass stage Five, it’s over. I’ve discovered this is the furthest thing from the truth. Grief is cyclical; on any given day, at any given time, any one of those stages revisits you.
I cherish the days we had, leading up to your very last breath. I feel as though I learned more about you in those days than I had my entire life. Why hadn’t I ever asked more questions? Oh, the roiling combination of regret and grief; it’s so easy to succumb to the warm toxicity of those feelings. It’s as tantalizing and as dangerous as the apple in the Garden of Eden.
But I digress. I wrote this letter as my expression of my undying love and devotion to you; my unending gratitude to you for giving me life and loving me the best way you knew how. Witnessing how you navigated getting your affairs in order and the business of dying while trying to tie everything up in a bow for me still leaves me in awe.
Your final days have come to define strength, poise, and dignity to me. I couldn’t be prouder to be your daughter. I’ll love you for eternity, Mom.
If I was to leave you, dear Reader, with any takeaways it would be to Love HARD, without shame. Say “the thing,” whatever it is, because unanswered questions will torture you forever. Forgive. We are all doing the best we can with the tools we’ve got and that includes our Mothers.
More From Our Mother’s Day Issue:
Melyssa Ford: A Letter To My Late Mother On Mother’s Day was originally published on hellobeautiful.com