This is a follow-up story to Kelly’s ongoing grief journey. To read her back story please click here.
“This Sunday will be my first Mother’s Day without my daughter, who passed last fall from a neurodegenerative condition. Another looming holiday in a long year of dreaded ‘firsts.’
During a call with my psychiatrist, she asked how I was feeling about Mother’s Day. I told her about a call I had had with my mother where I had asked her if we could just skip Mother’s Day this year. My mother’s response was an emphatic, ‘No!’
To be fair, my mother deserves all of the honor and recognition we can give her. I won the jackpot when it comes to mothers and that has never been more evident than in this last year. But I’ll get back to that. My psychiatrist went on to suggest I come up with a plan for how to approach and spend the day. This seems logical of course, but all I have been able to see is yet another emotional landmine on a pock-filled calendar.
So far, my track record with avoiding them has been poor. I spent Thanksgiving in and out of my cousin’s bathroom in tears. Once gifts were opened and I had feigned excitement for my son, I spent the rest of Christmas in bed. I tried to deny New Year’s existence and did fairly well until emotions ran too high resulting in a rare fight with my husband. On my birthday, I drank entirely too much and paid for it dearly the next day.
With each tactical option failing, I realize now there is no avoiding these landmines. The best I can do is acknowledge their existence and surround myself with people I love. There is no armor that can protect me from the cutting grief. The landmine will detonate, it will be painful, but I also know I will survive. I will give myself the space to grieve, as many times throughout the day as necessary, but that doesn’t mean I have to deprive myself of the joy of the day either. After all, who is better at multi-tasking than mothers? I’ll survive the day, because it is just that, one day, and I’ve survived much worse.
But it would be naive to enter battle without at least some protection. Instead of avoidance and denial, this time I choose gratitude. There is the most obvious source: for all the pain and trauma that came with being my daughter’s mother, the lessons she taught, the happiness and love felt, all far overpower the negative. I would not be the woman I am today without having been her mother. That doesn’t justify the difficult path she walked. Nothing will, and I have to let go of any hope of reconciling the meaning of her pain. But I can still be grateful for the way she shaped me.
I can also be grateful for the incredible mother to which I was born, as well as the mother I acquired through marriage. While my husband and I have never lived near immediate family while we’ve been together, it is not lost on me how fortunate we are to have our mothers in our lives and that they are both willing and able to travel to be with us when we need them. Last year my mother and mother-in-law spent a combined eight weeks living with my family as we prepared for the end of my daughter’s life and grieved her afterward. I will never forget their sacrifice of our most precious commodity: time. Or their unconditional love and compassion.
So I will face the next landmine. It will detonate and it will hurt, regardless of whether or not I want to acknowledge its existence. But this time I will multitask like a mother, holding my conflicting emotions in tandem, and finding resolve behind a Kevlar vest of gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day to all, and to those who struggle on this day, let the tears flow, feel the pain but don’t forget to feel the love and gratitude also. We’re with you.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelly Cervantes. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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