As many of you know, I lost my mom last year. It still doesn’t make sense for me to write that. How do you lose the person who gave you life? How is she here one day, and gone the next? How do you find your footing when you wake up reeling every single day?
And here comes Mother’s Day. A day when we honor our moms for all they’ve done. And everywhere you turn, you’re inundated with Mother’s Day ads, tributes, sales, and deals. In recent years, I wondered about my friends who had lost their moms, whether long ago or recently. Were they OK watching everyone else talk about what they were going to be doing with their moms, or what they were buying their moms, or all the wonderful things their moms had done for them? Was it rubbing it in their face that I could still do all that with my mom? I had no way of knowing unless I asked. But I didn’t ask. I just felt pangs of guilt, hoping I wasn’t making it worse for them.
And now, I’m in their shoes. And the answer would be, it’s complicated. Yes, I feel a pang of envy. Yes, it hurts that my mom is not here, and no matter how much I cry out for her, she will no longer answer.
But on the other hand, I am happy for those who can still feel their mother’s embrace. Who can still confide their fears to her. Who still have the time to right any wrongs, apologize for any hurts, smooth over the bumps. Because the love of a mother is so primal and unconditional, there is nothing else like it in our lives. And we all deserve to know that love for as long as we possibly can. I do recognize that there are cases where the transgression is so egregious, and the breach is so devastating, that reconciliation isn’t possible. But in many other cases, the hurts and perceived transgressions aren’t worth the loss of a relationship.
I want people who still have their moms to realize that life can change on a dime, and while we all think there is always still time, that’s an illusion. And a delusion. As the saying goes, no one is promised tomorrow. You can still change the course of your relationship when your mom is still alive. You can forgive many things, or you can ask forgiveness as well. Because once your mom is gone, so are your chances of making things right.
There is no perfect person and there is no perfect relationship. But when you let go of expectations of perfection, you can forge a new, more adult relationship. I know I did with my mom. And with her absence from my life, I’ve realized that so much of what I’ve done for most of my life has been with the hopes of sharing that experience with her in some way, making her proud, getting her approval. Any successes I’ve had since her passing have been kind of hollow. Because the first thing I want to do is call her on the phone, or send her a copy of something I’ve had published. Her smile and praise meant the world to me. And until I lost her, I had no idea that it was all centered around her.
If you do have your mom alive on this Earth, and you have any kind of decent relationship with her, let her know how much she means to you. You might not ever get that chance again.
But if you, too, are still finding yourself off-balance by her loss, look for something that would make her smile. Or make her proud. Or that keeps her alive for you. Because although she might be gone, the greatest tribute to your mom is the love that will always be in your heart.
Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved