Mother’s Day is looming. For many, it’s a day of sleep-ins, breakfast in bed, new slippers and handmade cards. For some, it also serves as a reminder of one of the most significant losses we can experience. For me, it is both of these things.

My mother passed away on May 28th, 2008, the day after her 54th birthday and a couple of weeks after Mother’s Day. I don’t want to relive her illness and passing here, as almost seven years on it is too raw a wound to probe too deeply.

I do want to talk about why it’s such a hard day when your own Mum isn’t here to celebrate.

I will go to the cemetery on Mother’s Day, like I do every year, and lay flowers down on the grave she shares with my maternal grandmother, who died several years before her. I will sit there for a while. It’s a nice spot; there is a tree nearby that I’ve watched grow from a sapling these past seven years. The grass is always green and it’s kept short and tidy and the spot catches the morning sunlight.

In my head, I have a little chat with Mum and with Nan too. Sitting there, no matter what day, always takes me straight back to 2008, but there is a special poignancy on Mother’s Day. The cemetery is awash with chrysanthemums more than any other flower and the crowds descend to remember their mothers. Trust me, there is nothing quite like the strange mix of grief, solidarity and loneliness in that crowd.

Mother's Day

My Mum and her Mum.

 

My husband and the kids will still spoil me on Mother’s Day. He will make sure my daughters and step kids have something nice to give me from the school stall or will have taken them shopping for new bed socks or a coffee mug or chocolates. He will help them to make me breakfast and maybe we will go out for lunch after the cemetery.

It will be a nice day- it always is. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the effort that my family goes to on my behalf. I do, I always do. I love the homemade cards, the little gifts, the treats. It’s just I feel like I’m enjoying the day through a haze of grief and longing. Surely you can’t enjoy something while feeling like that, right? But you can. It’s a strange paradox.

Most years, I want to skip the whole day. Two years ago, I would have given almost anything to close my eyes and wake up the day after Mother’s Day. The deep sadness I felt at the thought of celebrating Mother’s Day with an infant in my arms that would never meet her maternal grandmother was overwhelming. That infant is a boisterous 2 year old now, with her grandmother’s name and good humour. And it’s still overwhelming.

The thing is, though, I don’t want that sadness to overwhelm me. Not on that day. Because that day is also for me, as much as it was for my mum, and as much as I celebrated her on that day, she celebrated me, too. We would go out for lunch or I would go to her house for a meal. We’d have a few drinks; we’d laugh and shoot the breeze. My mum was always the kind of person who celebrated life and family. She taught me a lot and most of it probably without meaning to. Some important stuff, too. She taught me to be independent and to think for myself, how to cook, how to navigate through the minefield of employment and how to host a great party. She showed me how to grow plants and taught me that, in a pinch, almost anything in the kitchen can become a makeshift microphone for when you really need to sing along with feeling and flair. She wasn’t conventional and she wasn’t perfect. But she was my mum and she is irreplaceable and I will keep celebrating Mother’s Day, no matter how hard it is, because I am the mother I am today largely because of the mother she was to me.

 

 

This post was originally published on May 5th, 2014 but has been updated.

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  • Beautiful x

    • Handbagmafia

      Thank you xx

  • Lauren Hunt

    Hi Amy, your post really struck a chord with me… I too lost my mum, only 5 month ago, and she was 56. I have found all the significant days and milestones since then really difficult – her birthday, christmas, new years, my daughters birthday… and then there will be Mother’s day. My first one without her. Sad times 🙁
    But I must say I found a small amount of comfort reading your post – knowing that someone else out there understands how I feel. Thank you for sharing your story xox

    • Ah Lauren- I’m sorry you lost your mum. Mine was 54. In 2008 though it might as well have been yesterday. I’m glad this gave you comfort- you’re not alone. Thanks for your comment xx

    • Kirrily Burton

      I understand exactly how you feel. It sounds like we lost our Mums at almost the same time – my Mum died on the 6th of July, 2014, and every milestone has been really difficult, the last one being Mothers Day. The last “first” one is coming up in a month and a half. My Mum was 67 and she went far too quick – four days after diagnosis. No time to prepare. Such sadness and now such loneliness. It does help to hear other people’s similar stories, making you feel not quite so alone. Much strength to you xx

  • Haidee

    Can totally relate to this. This year is the 12th Mother’s Day I have missed with my own mum, she died when she was 43. I have written an open letter to her on my blog that I plan to post tomorrow, it’s such a heart wrenching topic. While I find Mother’s Day hard, I find my own birthday harder because no one really understood the significance of the day more than a mother. Hope this year is a little easier. xx

  • Ah, so lovely, your love and longing for her shine outward. That picture is just beautiful. I understand how you feel, but it is Father’s Day that used to hurt me. Bittersweet indeed. For me the emptiness of that day only filled with the birth of my son, who has a dad still.

  • She was a brilliant mother to have created such a strong, intelligent daughter, Amy. I’m sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how hard it must be.