Wednesday, November 5, 2014
It's been seven years since you left this earth. The picture above is how I most often remember you. Over the past seven years, you have missed out on a lot.
You should have been there for my college graduation (which just so happened to be my first Mother's Day without you). We would have all gone out to dinner to celebrate.
You should have called me on my first day of teaching, because you always knew best that I would be a teacher. As a child, you asked me if you could volunteer in my class and make my student's treat bags. I looked puzzled, shook my head no, and said matter-of-factly, "You'd be dead by then". You laughed at my childhood innocence and perception of age. You should have had the chance to bring in school supplies and treats to my class.
You should have been the first person I told (after Jesse) that I was pregnant. I don't know how you would have responded since we both assumed I would adopt. But we should have bonded over motherhood.
You should have been in the labor and delivery room with me when I gave birth to Jackson. We should have shared pregnancy stories.
You should have watched me walk across stage to receive my graduate degree. You would have inevitably been sick, between riding on the mountain roads and being anxious. But you would have pretended like you were fine because you were so proud.
You should have been there to pick up the pieces after my miscarriage. Not because you were particularly good with words or especially comforting, but because you understood the pain and you were my mother.
You should have shared in the joy and shock of finding out I was pregnant with triplets. You always wanted one of us to have twins. I cannot imagine how happy you would have been.
You should have talked me through all the frustrations I felt as a young wife and mother. You should have opened up to me about your own early experiences with Dad and raising a family.
You should have spoiled my children every Christmas, just like you lavishly did for us.
You should have been at the beach this weekend, since you were the one to begin the tradition. You should have been the one to take pictures of all your grandchildren on the couch.
The real truth is,
I should have respected you as a person, regardless of what kind of mother you were during my adolescence.
I should have let go of any resentment and anger towards you long before you died.
I should have been overwhelmed by love and gratitude for you on my wedding day. Instead, I was annoyed that you thought you needed your own pictures and couldn't just let the photographer do her job. I was more frustrated than concerned when you got so sick, because you took the attention away from me. I could have never known it was the last time I would see you alive.
With age comes wisdom. It is only now that I understand and appreciate what you did for our family.
You created many traditions that continue to be carried on. You filled us with excitement and eagerness over every holiday, and made the smallest things worth celebrating.
You instilled in me a love of photography and documenting. I am fortunate enough to have my own childhood memories preserved because of you, and I can ensure that my children will have plenty of photos to look back upon from their childhood.
You used food, more than words, to convey your love to us. Because of that, I find ultimate comfort in cooking, baking, and sharing food with others. On the flip side, I make sure to communicate every day my thoughts and feelings to my children. I want them to hear every day how much they are loved and how proud I am of them.
You continued to live after Dad died. I used to view the depression and illness as your greatest weakness, but I now realize how strong you became in spite of it. While it so often felt like you gave up on us, you did everything you could to continue on. I hope to never know the depths of sorrow you felt. At the same time, I am blessed to have known the love you had for Dad.
Over the past seven years I have continued to cycle through the stages of grief, depending on what milestones in my life are taking place. In between the guilt and anger, the loneliness and the acceptance, I have learned much about motherhood. Using you as an example (and non-example), I know what kind of mother I want to be for my children. I only wish you could be here with me.