When I was 17 (and she was 46) my mother died suddenly. (My father died the next day.) It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I still choke up, just thinking about it. And I still cry and mourn my loss.
When I got married, it was really tough. I had friends who loved me like family and helped fill the gap for me.
But when I got pregnant, nothing prepared me for how sharp the pain would be. I had done my best to grieve over the years and I was surprised by how raw it still felt. I was angry too, that my joyful pregnancy was somewhat dulled with this nagging ache. I thought I had worked through all this before! I didn’t want to hurt anymore. I didn’t want to feel it.
Partly it was my surprise- the grief sneaked up on me. I thought it was behind me. It had been almost 13 years and I had become very independent. I learned how to rely on myself. And I couldn’t rely on myself to hold it together now. Now I just wanted my mom.
I wanted to ask all the questions I had never thought to ask: about her pregnancy with me, her labor, parenting. (A typical teen, I thought I knew everything then- I’d never asked.) I wonder now what it might be like to call my mother and talk about my wonderful children.
Being a motherless daughter (and finding Hope Edelman’s book) shaped much of my adult life. And being a motherless mother shapes who I am as a mother. In some ways I am more present, because I value every moment like it might be the last. But living on that edge (and doubting the future) is precarious and I’ve chosen to consciously move from there to more solid ground.
As a motherless mother, I’ve learned to adapt. I learned so much about opening to love through mothering. I didn’t know how much of my self I had closed off until my daughters began to open me up. It doesn’t hurt to love. It hurts to resist love.
I’m no longer aching, but I will continue to grieve- probably for the rest of my life. And when I get choked up I allow the tears, and I allow myself to love.