Mother’s Day is fast approaching — again.
Last year, I had one of my best ever. I had a new granddaughter to hold and love. All my kids, who are grown or nearly so, were on hand to help celebrate. I give thanks for them nearly every day. I am lucky and blessed. (Not necessarily in that order.)
Still it was a dichotomous day for me. At the end of our family celebration, I was filled with joy and wanted to post a Facebook-worthy picture of our newest family member, along with the rest of our rather large group.
As I scrolled through the feed, I saw there were so many like me who are what I call Mother’s Day orphans. These are people who celebrate Mother’s Day because they are mothers themselves, but shoulder the weight of missing their own mother because she is no longer living on this earth. Many of these good friends post memory photos of their moms with a heartfelt missing-you message. It’s a manner of self-expression and a loving nod to those no longer with us. I love the sentiment expressed in these posts. I press the like button quite often. There’s just one slight rub.
I can’t find the capacity or strength to create one of my own.
It’s been more than nine years, and I can’t bring myself to post a photo of my mom. I’m just not ready. I still have too many memories of Alzheimer’s and can’t get past them to get to the good memories, those pre-disease.
I know I’m not normal. But what is normal, really, when it comes to grief? I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I do.
I’m not in a constant state of mourning anymore. I don’t lie on the couch unable to get up and start my day. I’m not stymied. I get things done.
My life has moved forward. I have a granddaughter and a family I hold dear. I have my dad. I try to focus on the positive, for the most part. Except for this. Except on days like this — Mother’s Day, her birthday, my birthday, Christmas, the date she passed away and so on.
At certain times I can’t get beyond the sadness, the ugliness, to return to the memories of the happy mom I once knew. It is like a mountain I can’t climb, an obstacle too big to tackle.
I wait for time to take its course, because everyone tells me this will happen. “Time cures all things.”
After nine years I’m still waiting, although I do think it’s getting better. Maybe time will take over eventually.
I’m writing this because maybe I’m not alone. Maybe there is one person out there who might be comforted by the fact that someone else like them is living and laughing and welcoming new loves into their life, but at the same time is still just not quite over it. Maybe someone like me continues to have trouble remembering the good over the bad or the wellness over the disease.
For now I put one foot in front of the other and love the people who are still with me here on earth. We celebrate and laugh and live life as richly as we can.
Losing my mom wasn’t the end of the world for me, but it was terrible. Sometimes terrible stays with you. I don’t experience it every day, but it’s still there in the corners. I’m not sure why, but I can only live my own honest reality.
It’s all any of us can do.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.