Whoever said, “Time heals all wounds” had yet to lose their mother. This January, when my mother died, I unexpectedly joined what I call “The Dead Mother’s Club”. A club nobody wants to become a member of, but when you do, it is the members of that club — and sometimes only the members — who help you deal with the pain of your loss.
In the days and weeks after my mother died I received an overwhelming amount of lovely cards. The one that helped me the most was from my old college friend Brian who had stood in my shoes 20 years prior. The card was a sad looking whale with water shooting through his blow hole and it read “That blows.” Inside the card he had humorously written all the well meaning, profound things people say to you when they don’t know better, such as, “She is in a better place,” “I know exactly how you feel,” “Rejoice in her life and focus on the living,” etc.
“That blows” summed it up for me. I am 44, my mother was 68 and going with the natural order of life and death, you expect your parent to pass on before you. It just happened earlier for me than I was expecting.
All the profundity in the world sounds like a heap of crap when this part of us, the part that we have had since birth or soon thereafter, is now gone — forever. My feeling was, “Screw you, I just want to be sad.” Another friend of mine, who lost her mother to Alzheimer’s, had someone tell her, “You are going to need to get over this.” Huh wha? Get over this?
It is a shit sandwich with crap dressing and it leaves this gaping hole inside of you that is impossible to explain. So odd, I found myself telling strangers, “My mom just died.” Like it was my birthday and I was telling a waitress hoping for a free ice cream sundae.
And therein lies the beauty of what a mother is and why we celebrate them on Mother’s Day. Whether we are close to our mothers or not, when they are gone, so is a part of us. A part that once it’s gone, we will never “get over.” A wound that will never heal, but just gets easier to tolerate.
I was very close to my mother. I loved and cherished her every day. So much so, as my brother and I sat and tried to coordinate/rewrite our eulogy (with those tiny pencils on the back of the pews) we sat overwhelmed with gratitude and joy over how much our mother had given us. Overwhelmed by emotion at her funeral, I saw my brother start to shake and break down right before we were supposed to speak. I knew if he lost it I was done for, so I hauled back and punched him as hard as I could in the leg. Not so subtle, but effective. He started to laugh and we could hear our mom say, “Darn you kids not in church! Knock it off!”
My mother was a master of figuring things out. She made beautiful cakes, loved irises, gardened, sewed, sang, crafted, cooked, was a speed skater, an awesome softball catcher, an award winning saleswoman, class mother, grandmother extraordinaire and smart as a whip all while always looking beautiful. And of course, she was my mother and I will never be the same without her.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother Mary Korus. I miss you.