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Mother's Day Without Mom

May 10, 2018 - Stacey Sacco
It’s been nearly two years since my mom died. I’m starting to come to terms with “new normal” but I still miss her terribly. Recently, Anelise has been drawing pictures of my mom. It’s based mostly on photos that are hanging around the house and memories I’ve shared. My mom owned a bookstore for a few years, but it closed before Anelise was born. However, he most recent picture if of my mom standing in a room full of books.

Two years is a very long time to a six-year-old. For a full one-third of her life, her Nana has not been here. I’m sure her memories are fuzzy and incomplete. It’s possible that she only remembers what my mom looks like because of the framed pictures hanging on my bedroom wall. I can’t help but think about all my girls are missing by having no memories of how much they were loved by her.

In her book Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey recalls the death of her grandmother. Even though she had time with her grandmother as an adult, she recalls the stories she heard from her mother and aunts. “It was their instinct to fill in the blanks for me, to help me see the truth of their mother, to love her better because of how they had loved her.”

I find myself doing this for my kids. Even with tears pouring down my cheeks, I tell my kids about the sweet memories of my childhood. I remember my mom watching softball games, volleyball games, orchestra concerts, speech tournament awards and shopping for prom dresses. We talk about the hundreds of hours spent reading on the couch or the day before kindergarten when she taught me to tie my shoe while lying on the floor of the dining room.

When I tell Iris the crazy story of her being born at home, I always make sure to include that my mom was so excited/panicked she couldn’t dial the phone and my husband had to do it. Matthias helps by including memories about his “double sleepover” and going to the Newsboys concert with her.

Of course it’s different for my kids, particularly my younger kids, than it is for me. The person who grew me inside her own body is missing. But I think my kids have to look a little harder to find her. They have to seek out the memories or allow me to fill in the blanks for them. Most of it is not built into their consciousness.

On the other hand, I see a bit of my mom every time I look in the mirror and every time I pick up a book. When I cry at a movie with a happy ending or am late no matter how hard I try to be on time, I think of her. Every great event in my life is happy/sad. The first person I would call in tears of sadness or tears of joy is unreachable.

So piece by piece I rebuilt her memory for them. I try to give them something to hold on to, some sense of history and connectedness. Maybe a feeling that they are missing something by not being able to talk to her and hear her encouragement. And hopefully a deep sense of love- that someone saw their ultrasound pictures and spoke love over them. Someone whispered words of complete adoration into their tiny baby ears. Someone watched with awe as they learned to crawl and play and babble. While they will forget the cadence of her voice, I hope to give them enough that they never forget her spirit.

Mother’s Day without your mom is miserable. Seeing those barely visible threads that connect her to my kids makes each day a little easier and a little harder. And unfortunately, my incomplete and biased memory will have to be enough for them.


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