Mother’s Day was hard. Well, at first it wasn’t because I decided to pretend it was any other day. I have become very good at that since Mom died. Pretending. With so many firsts coming up, I can pretend that it is another day when in fact it feels like it is anything but that. I did a pretty job of it, too. I let the kids do what they wanted. I watched DVD movies (avoiding all mention of Mother’s Day and commercials taunting me with “Have you called your Mom today?”) Clint was out of town. Clint is always here on days of significance, so it was so easy to pretend it was any other Sunday. But it wasn’t.
Gabriella leaped into my bed when she woke up and snuggled up close. She laid her head on my chest and put her tiny, preschool, still-warm-from sleep toes on my legs and just wrapped herself into me. I pulled her as close as I could and I cried. I cried because I know that I am so blessed to have a little girl to pass on the mother/daughter things to. I am blessed because my boys are everything to me. I am blessed because in what I have with my daughter reminds me of what my Mom and I shared. And I cried. Because it reminded me of what my Mom and I shared. In her sweet innocence, she asked me why I was crying. I told her because my heart was so full it was overflowing with tears. She lifted her head, looked in my eyes and put her hand on my heart and said, “That’s because Grandma is in her your heart and she loves you so much. And everyone you love….like ME…is in your heart, and it is just so full with so many people there, right?” I could barely nod. How did someone so young become so wise? How can I keep her so innocent and pure of heart?
After we got up, I was able to make the day normal. I was able to act as if nothing was wrong. That nothing was special about this regular Sunday. My aunt called to check on me. I told her I was fine. My brother called. He was told I was fine. Really, I am JUST FINE. Now if you will stop asking, I can do a much better job of pretending.
Do you know what place is the hardest place to be on Mother’s Day and when the hardest time to be there just so happens to be? The grocery store at 9:00pm the night of Mother’s Day. Typical of the ways of my children, one of them realized they needed something for school in the morning, so I decided to run out and grab it that night, rather than in the morning.
Walking into the store and heading towards what I needed, I froze. Do you know what is left that time of night on Mother’s Day? The picked over flowers that are starting to wilt a bit and were not the best of the bunch. A few scattered cards that no one chose that year. Some helium balloons that are slowly losing their air and looking rather pathetic and wrinkled. The leftovers. The cards that won’t be going to anyone’s mother that year. The flowers that should be bringing a smile to a Mom’s face, but won’t be going home that night. The balloons that will eventually deflate before a Mom has a chance to see it and smile. They all should have gone to someone’s mother. Some Mom should have had those things. Been sent the cards, or the flowers or the balloons.
I just stood there frozen. I should have bought flowers. I should have bought a card. I should have bought balloons. As I stared at the remnants of the unchosen tokens of love, I began to cry. They represented all that I could no longer do for Mom. They were in my face reminders of the years ahead that I will pass by displays like this and never have the need to browse for that perfect card for Mom. Or find the most beautiful flowers. Or get that balloon that will drive the dog crazy and make her laugh. And I cried. Not the dainty, pretty cry that actresses or other women can pull off. No. I stood there in the middle of my local grocery store and sobbed the kind of body wracking sobs that you cannot hold back no matter how hard you try.
It could have been one minute or five before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I made no attempt to stop. I couldn’t. I just spread my arm out at the surrounding area, then on my heart and then again at what was all around me. The woman put her hands on my shoulder and just said, “Mine died 3 years ago and I still hate this part of the store on this Day.” And she hugged me. I am normally not one to hug a total stranger in the middle of my local grocery store, but at that moment, it was all I could do. I pulled myself together as best I could and thanked the woman. She patted my back and told me she knew the look, the face and the tears all too well. With a squeeze of my shoulder she was gone. I shook my head as if to clear it and finished what I had to do.
Back to pretending everything is okay, I checked out and went home. It was obvious I had been crying, but no one said a word. They can tell when I need them to not call comment to it. Like I said, I am good at pretending. Because, and I ask this because it terrifies me, what if I don’t? What if I let all of this pain and anguish and anger and fear and misery come out? I am afraid it will completely shatter me.
Then what? What if it does shatter me and I cannot figure out how to get those pieces to fit back together again? What if they don’t fit back together again? I have no idea what I will be left with. No idea what the pieces that survive will look like or function like. Worse, what if it shatters me and I am never “me” again? I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to let it all out yet still know that somehow it will be okay. That somehow the pieces of my shattered heart will find a way to piece themselves back together again. I just don’t know. So I don’t let it happen. Not all at once. And not when I feel it will overwhelm me. I just don’t. I just can’t. What if the pieces just don’t fit anymore?