(I wrote this on Mother’s Day in 2015. Those who have lost their own mothers will understand the bittersweet feeling of that day for me.)
Maybe the real sign of getting older is how many ‘days’ you collect; how many occasions there are to remember someone who has passed, milestones of personal tragedy and triumph, moments to take pause and remember.
I feel as old as Methuselah.
I tucked in Lucca tonight and he spoke of mothers going away. No matter what I said I couldn’t get him to accept that I wouldn’t go away and not come back. Because Mormor never came back he said. And that’s true. And it’s as awful as a thing can get.
Today we planted our garden. It’s a newish tradition for us but one that will stick if I have anything to say about it. We got dirty and laid roots. Together. It felt simple and pure and full of promise. I felt so much love and gratitude for my boys today, for the life that bubbles out of them no matter what. I made sure they got down into it, felt the earth between their toes and felt the satisfaction of digging a hole and planting something.
My mom would have loved it. She would have been right there with us encouraging Lucca to strip down and spray water on his head (not that he needs any encouragement). She would have laughed the loudest at his shenanigans. There they would have been, thick as thieves cracking one another up and there would be nothing anyone could have done about it. She was so very alive.
I unpacked a box of her things tonight. A long forgotten box of personal effects. But as I unwrapped each item from its tissue paper sarcophagus it was as if time had not marched on some 18 plus years. I was once again in her closet on the floor beholding a silk purse as if it were the rarest of treasures, imagining the party it would go to on my mother’s beautiful arm, the stories she would tell of the night and all its splendor. It was a heady thing, a sense memory of the most vibrant order. I could smell her, feel the carpet beneath me, see the rows and rows of bejeweled shoes and fancy dresses. The real luxury of it was my imagination. I would sit there and think about the day she would lend that purse to me, telling me to take good care of it as it was precious, but that I was ready to enjoy something so adult, so beyond my tender years. It was exciting in a way my 40-year-old self doesn’t often feel until holding it again tonight.
Except then the reality of it hits. They’re all just here. All these things in a big pile. All the memories, all the hopes and projections of a life that never unfurled the way I dreamt in those days, but in a different and wonderful way regardless. A way, however, that is immeasurably less wonderful than a life that had her in it.
The boys spoiled me today. They were amazingly amazing. They showed me in every action how much they appreciate me as a mother. I couldn’t love them more than I do now. If I could give them one thing in return it would a lunch with Mormor. Because in my mind it is they who were truly robbed. The immense love she had for children, and they never got to enjoy their birth right. The grandsons of the world’s greatest grandmother. She used to say to me, “Amy when you have children just give them to me. I will return them when they are 16. If they don’t like me DON’T WORRY! I will bribe them with toys and candy and everything they could ever want!” She was joking of course, but not completely. You see I sat on that throne for 22 years.
Being the apple of her eye was rarified air. The world was there for the taking, because she made it so. Only those of us who knew her understand the devastating injustice of it all. Get how much more there was to laugh about and enjoy. I wish….
So many things.