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I Swear on My Mother's Grave-Mother's Day Musings

I love photos. I love scrapbooks. I used to make scrapbooks as a kid and cut photos in heart shapes and mount them on colored paper in the shape of flowers or school buses or animals, depending on the theme. I love stickers. I love calligraphy pens. I am an only child. I am also a Virgo. This all makes sense to me. I lost my mom in 2016, and I love seeing photos of her when she was young. I love seeing her when she is in her prime. I love seeing her before I was born. I love seeing the mom I remember as a kid. I love. She is shaky here in this photo from later in her life, shaky in many ways. She is dealing with slurred speech, neuropathy pain and difficulty standing. Her feet are numb and she is having mobility issues and...well, there is crippling sadness and pain and addiction ravaging her body. She was probably taking 3 pain medications at this time, drinking a bit and hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours, if at all. But hey, she is up and at my Nana’s retirement home with me in this one. She left the house! That is a victory.

I am late 20’s, brunette, smoking still, losing my wallet everyday, making the wrong choices in men, but still loving big earrings and turtlenecks. As expected, Mom is wearing Chico’s from head to toe.

Shopping for a card for Mother’s Day was super hard for me in the last years of my mom's life. I honestly think Mother’s Day was harder for me when she was living. Complicated mom/daughter relationship cards don’t really exist, and you feel like such an outsider when going out to brunch with your sick mom isn’t an option. I also felt fake, because how could I buy her a card when I hadn’t called her back in weeks? How could I bring her flowers when, the last time we had spoken, I told her I didn't want to hear her cry anymore if she wasn't going to do anything about her pain and addiction? But capitalism and society don't care. Just spend, spend, spend. It’s your duty as a daughter and a citizen.

There were a few years I didn’t even buy her a card. Some years, buying a blank one so I could write the note the way I wanted to felt better. Felt more honest. I had to sort of take back this Hallmark holiday. Make it mine. Make it ours.

I don’t like giving advice on grief, because everyone is different, every day is different. But to me, Mother's Day is just another day. Another Sunday. I can lose it and start crying just as hard on a Tuesday evening in October. If you are grieving, whatever that means to you, make this Hallmark day what you need. What you need now. This year. This month. This Mother’s Day. And allow yourself the grace to feel good on Sunday, because you just might feel really happy, and that’s okay too.

5 years after her death, I love my mom more than I ever have, but I also feel a lot of love for myself. I am learning to forgive myself. She could only do the best she could with where she was in her life, and if I believe that, then that’s the same for me. I could only do the best that I could do, at that time in my life.

I truly believe I was rebelling and angry at what was happening to her, but it was really about what was happening to me. I was watching my beautiful, strong, independent, funny, wise, capable mom...slowly die. And as a Virgo and a do-er with resources at my disposal, someone who can manage a to-do list faster than anyone, I could do nothing about it. Nothing. How I am going to feel on Mother's Day also feels so out of my control. You can plan ahead, or have an idea of what you need or want on that day, but the day will come, whether you are ready or not. Just like grief. I hope you feel loved, warm and safe on Mother's Day...and every other day of the year. Maybe I'll scrapbook this year. I still have rubber cement somewhere in the house.

Listen to I Swear on My Mother's Grave Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts!

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