Motherhood in May / Part 2
Odd as it may seem, for me, most days begin with a seemingly obvious reminder that my mom is gone and has been for more than 7 months. I still attempt to call her several times a week and often find myself surprised by the program from her funeral gracing my refrigerator.
As quickly as I forget, however, I remember she’s not here; it’s almost as if the forgetting and remembering have become one, singular thought, rather than two. The remembering part is basically brutal every time. By brutal, I don’t mean it evokes dramatic sobs, an onset of depression, or even anger. The brutality of reminding myself my sweet mom is gone, is simply in the recognition of her absence. It’s a dull ache, a wave of loneliness, and a long list of everything she’s missed and will miss. It’s a few lingering questions that remain unresolved; a few lingering questions it’s too late to ask now…
Did my mom like beets?
Here I am, several months without my mom, learning to live with and endure my grief and I almost can’t sleep because I’m not certain if she liked beets or not. This random, bizarre question has come up because I recently realized my own love for beets. I’ve been eating them every day for weeks; pickled, roasted, boiled. Ironically, my obsession began in the hospital cafeteria the day before my mom died. I ventured out and added one perfectly round-purple-been sitting in the salad bar for hours probably-earthy flavored beet to my plate… And I went back for more. And I bought some when I got home. And now I’m obsessed; it’s basically a repeat of the great brussels sprout discovery of 2012 in the McClintock home…obsessed.
There are many questions I wish I had asked my mom before she died. Whether or not she liked beets may seem stupid and trivial. It is and I’m okay with that.
Almost a year before my mom passed away she told me she didn’t like basil. While I found it strange, having lived with her for most of my life, I never knew basil incited her gag reflex it didn’t seem important at the time and it definitely didn’t cause me to stop and wonder, what else don’t I know? For the most part, when the word gag comes up, the conversation is pretty much over for me. And now, today, all I can think about is what else I missed.
Can I find out if she liked beets or not? Probably. I’m guessing, after seeing this, my dad, her friends, a few of my aunts, and her cousins will know the answer. But what about everything else? Yes, I am still in need of her encouragement and advice on a daily basis but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What about all the things she kept tucked away in her heart that never came up in conversation? My mom died and so much died with her; so many stories and memories. I am thankful that because of the documentary and my book writing I had the opportunity to ask both my parents many questions that may not have otherwise been asked, but I am still left wanting more.
Just this week, in anticipation of Rubina starting Kindergarten, I was wondering about my first day of kindergarten and what it was like for her and for me. It wasn’t even on my radar until now as I approach this season with my own daughter but I wish it had been so I could have asked. I’m certain more unanswered questions will emerge at the passing of each milestone.
I have a feeling this will be a never ending source of grief for me, but most of all I hope for it to serve as a reminder. A reminder to ask the questions, to take the time to pause and listen to the stories, the thoughts, and the dreams of those we love the most. We all carry within us likes and dislikes, regrets, sorrows, joys, and details we would be willing to share if only someone asked and listened… If this all sounds grim, I assure you, that’s not my intended point, rather an opportunity and a hope to be more purposeful and intentional with my time in relationships moving forward.
Does your mom like beets and basil? Ask her; ask her all the things you’re wondering… And listen to what she says…
If you are fortunate enough to have your mom in your life, I hope you pepper her with questions this Mother’s day in an attempt to know her on an even deeper level than that of beets and basil. Give her the gift of your time and listening skills. If, due to a multitude of any circumstances, you will not be blessed by your moms presence on Mother’s Day, be intentional about taking time to celebrate her goodness. On Mother’s Day, share pieces of yourself with your own children and teach them to listen; do your part to help the next generation of momma’s be better than the last…
Happy Mother’s Day.
Motherhood in May