What I got today

Can’t wait to see what they’re planning for Mother’s Day.

And, you know? I really was going to end there. Because, for those of us who have lost mothers, sometimes the less said about Mother’s Day, the better. Short and sweet.

And then, like an idiot, I realized that today is May 8. And that my mother died five years ago today. On Mother’s Day, in fact. What are the odds?

My mother had lots of opportunities to die. In 1982, when she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the cancer was given 95% odds, her 5%. When she totalled her car later on that year, her only injury the cut on her hand sustained as she crawled out the broken driver’s window of the upended vehicle. When she developed breast cancer at age 47. When the cancer returned, and returned again.

When she did die, at the age of 59, my mother still had lots more living to do. But certain things had been accomplished: namely, her children were grown. We were out of the house, developing careers, established in relationships with people she liked. My brother had two children; I was pregnant with my first. We were okay. And, even though there was so much left to live for, I think she knew that a fundamental job was done. We might have wanted a mother, desperately wanted her, but we no longer needed her to mother us.

There’s a fine, or maybe, rather, a fuzzy, line between want and need, though. While I may not need my mother to sign my permission forms or kiss my boo-boos any more, never in my adult life have I wanted her more than when I became a mother. The early days of parenting for me were a haze of grief and sleep deprivation, the coldest winter in years in a new city, where I barely knew a soul. I would have given anything to have her back, have her with me, even if she would have probably told me to calm down and relax and just put the baby in his bed and walk away. Maybe she would’ve made me crazy in ways I wasn’t already, but, you know? I don’t think so. And I don’t really care.

And now that those early days are behind me, now that I have more perspective on the whole thing, now that sleep has (more or less) returned and the grief isn’t all-encompassing, all the time, I still want her back the way I want nothing else. Just so that she could see those two small boys, clutching dandelions and bluebells in their fists. Just so she could drop to her knees and gather them all in her arms.