I had driven five hours that day to be there with her. John and I had only been home from our 43 day hospital stay for a few days, and I was off to see another part of my heart laying there, sick, dying. This time it was my mom.
I came in the door that leads from the garage into the house. The last time I had seen her she was helping me clean out the small brush in our back yard. John sat there on our back porch with a Picc in his arm feeding him IV fluid, trying to keep him alive, watching. It was only three months earlier.
To the right were the double doors leading into the basement den. I knew she was in there. No longer could she climb stairs and now she had a hospital bed downstairs to keep her comfortable. I remember turning my head around that corner. I gasped trying to keep the lump coming up out of my gut from coming through my mouth and into a wail. I fought the tears.
There she sat, in the recliner, her head laying back, mouth opened, oxygen tubes coming from her nose. Her hair was now white. Three months later and it was completely white. She was asleep.
I walked in. She immediately woke up. “My baby bird”, she said. “My baby.”
I started to bawl, grabbing her hands, wrinkled and worn, veins protruding. She was only 55 years old.
It has been almost three years since my got sick. And died. I have always missed her, but this year I miss her with a different understanding. This year, for the first time, I have my baby.
Now I get it.
When I hold my baby girl in my arms there is a love that comes through my bones, a physical feeling, that makes me want to hold on so tight. A love that compels me to holler, shout, and scream at this world and how it might hurt her. A love that would literally walk head on into a moving train to save her. A love so powerful. A love that makes me a different person.
Now I get it.
I get the decision my mom made at 22 to quite her job, in the mid-70′s when quitting your job wasn’t cool, to raise me. I get the countless hours she stayed up sewing me dresses and costumes and later drapes for my new home. I get the jobs she hated but she went to every day so that I could go to college – the college I wanted. I get the meals she would cook for me and freeze so that I could carry them back to my college-girl apartment. I get the notes she left on my mirror reminding me that I truly am beautiful when my 16-year-old self thought nothing but.
Now I get it.
And now I get that there is no one on this planet who will ever love me again with that kind of love.
When she passed away I felt like an orphan. Yes, my dad is still alive and well, but I still felt like an orphan. When conflict arose in my life with this person or that I would think to myself that my one person – my one person who would be on my team no matter what – is now gone. When my baby girl came and I was up at night feeding her, exhausted, in a house so messy and dirty because my tired body just had to rest during the day, I thought of my mom. I was doing it alone. There was no one else. There’s no one like your mom.
Even though we were very different and not the kind to hang out and shop and talk for hours, she was still my mom. Even though she didn’t indulge me or pamper me or agree with me just for the sake of it, she was still my mom. Even though there are mistakes that were lived and regrets that force their way to mind even now, she was still my mom.
At the end of the day your mom is often your most trustworthy ally.
I look at my baby girl and I want to think that this life I live with her will be all hearts and doodles. I know better, though. I won’t always agree with her. She’ll break my heart, and I’ll break hers. I won’t stand up for her when she’s wrong. I hope she doesn’t for me either. But I will always be on her team. The first to reach out and help even if that help means pointing her to Truth instead of loyalty. Because that’s what true love is anyway, pointing to Truth.
One of the last things my mom said to me was this. “My knowing you has made me a better person.”
Now I get it.
For all of you moms, whether you’ve already conceived your children in your womb or your babies are still in your heart, may God bless you with understanding of His love through the love you have for your children.
Last year I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. My baby girl was not born, but she was four months in my womb. You can read about my first Mother’s Day here.