Tonight I am enjoying a quiet night in with my sleeping niece while my sister enjoys a (rare) evening out with a friend.
It’s Mother’s Day Eve, our third since our mom passed — and the second since my sister became a mother. With days like these on the horizon, I wonder, “What will it be like? A day of celebration? Or sorrow? Will I cry? Or get angry? Will I feel peace? Will I smile? Will I reminisce? Who will I be with? Who will talk to? What will I do? Will anyone remember?”
I remember the first few years after my dad passed and how it felt when Father’s Day was around the corner. It seemed like every ad, bulk mailer, email or event was geared toward celebrating dad or buying some seemingly meaningless crap for the father I no longer had. It made me sad, angry even, at the naivety of it all. “Don’t these people know I’m fatherless?” my mind would shout as I hastily tore up, deleted or changed the channel. I remember how my tears would well up and my stomach would tighten. When you’re missing something so much, reminders seem to be everywhere.
This year, for me and my sister, Mother’s Day is only part of the equation. Today also marks what would be our parent’s 39th wedding anniversary. And we are five days from the closing date on the sale of our family home of 34 years. I’m also five weeks into a new job, where I’ve been rapidly learning all the ins and outs of a new organization, navigating new personalities and managing new responsibilities.
All things considered, I was actually feeling pretty good and at peace with the transitions over the past few months. Until suddenly, today, I had a moment where I felt like I was going to throw up. It kinda snuck up on me as I was driving back to my sister’s house after spending some time doing final cleaning in the garage of our family home.
OK, it’s really happening. Change is here. This is it.
Before I started my job, I had cleaned out the main house and most of the garage in order to get the house on the market. While each room came with its own challenges, the garage has been one of the more difficult areas to deal with. My dad built our garage with his own two hands and spent much of his free time there: fixing cars, building and tinkering. It’s been sort-of a lingering link to my dad for the past 12 years – the place I would go when I wanted to smell him, to sit with him. It’s so interesting how much I’ve (re-)processed my dad’s death since my mom’s passing. (I’ll write more about loss begetting loss in a future post.) Maybe it’s because my mom was such a link to him. Maybe it’s because I was never forced to really say goodbye because the house represented a shell of him. When my mom passed, I knew that this shell would also need to be passed on. This would not be a place where life would go on for me. Life was shifting to new places, new directions.
Fortunately, a block after the urge to vomit came over me, a friend from my meditation group walked by with her dogs. Thank God! A mindfulness bell! I rolled down my window, “Hey Sammie!” I breathed in the fresh air and said hello. I told her briefly how I was feeling, received her eyes of compassion, and began to feel the knot in my stomach untie. I remembered at that moment that I am alive and am surrounded by love and support. I gave myself permission to feel sad. And to know that even with some sadness, I am more than OK.
Tomorrow will be a new day. It’s Mother’s Day. A time to celebrate my mom, my sister, my friends who are mothers, even my own mothering nature. A time to rejoice in all the mothers who came before me and all the mothers to come after me. *Sigh.* I’ve restored peace, for now. Oh, and I’ve also eaten a half-pint of ice cream. Haha.