My mom died in February 2011. I was twenty-eight years old when I sat in the funeral home and listened to her eulogy, half-hoping she would just sit up so I could see her alive again. I was only half hoping because the previous five years of her life wasn’t living at all. She had been on and off life support, unable to walk, talk or eat solid food and her body was literally skin and bones. Her breasts seemed to have disappeared and her face was sunken in. No, that surely wasn’t the way a woman who had visited five of the seven continents would have wanted to live, so there was a huge part of me that was happy to see her finally resting in peace.
I miss my mom more and more as I get older. I realize now that I never got to be an adult with her which is when I think mother-daughter relationships are best. I never got to tell her about my first true adult love and cry on her shoulder when he broke my heart. She wasn’t at my college graduation and I couldn’t get her decorating advice for my apartment. Her home isn’t there for me to go back to if I ever needed to or if I just wanted to hang out on a Sunday afternoon. I feel emptiness knowing that when my child is born I won’t have my mom there to guide me.
I am grateful however for all the other women who have stepped into her place. My grandmother and my mom’s cousins and friends have always answered my calls when I wanted to talk about life. They have been the ones to congratulate me on accomplishments and encourage me through trails. They call to check on me when I’m traveling and advise me on “woman things”. I sit at their dinner tables on holidays and receive gifts from them on my birthdays. Women co-workers and college professors of my mom’s age have given me their shoulders to cry on and a hug just because. Life only gives you one mom, she can never be replaced but the world is full of mothers.
Losing my mom has shown me that all women are mothers. We mother our friends, families, co-workers and sometimes we even mother strangers. We are natural nurturers that celebrate each other every day in a way that only women can. So happy Mother’s Day to all the women in the world!