Sunday, May 11, 2014

Two glasses of wine in, and I can admit that Mother's Day has been an unprecedented downer for me. On one hand, I have so many friends who are on cloud nine, experiencing their first holiday cradling brand new babies. On the other, it's days like this that serve as brutal reminders that my mom is dead.

I miss my mom. I think about her every single day. But the relationship I had with my mom was unlike anything I've ever known anyone else to have. My mom was always so sick, I think she was incapable of being maternal. She didn't have the strength to play mom at the end of the day. She was always hurting, always in such extreme pain, that braiding hair or baking cookies was never a realistic priority. And for a really long time, I was so resentful. I was so bitter that my mom didn't "love me" the way I needed her to. I pined for something that even at a really young age, I knew I would never have. (I have a wonderful stepmom who has always loved, provided for, and been available to me. But I don't have to delve too deeply into the idea that a mom-to-daughter relationship is sacred in a way that nothing else can be). On days like today, and as the death of our loved ones brings, I miss what never was.

Today, instagram is inundated with pictures of girls flanked by their moms. Pictures from the 80s, with hilarious matching hairstyles. The most joyful of pictures from wedding days and proms and graduations. Pictures of silly faces and proud moments and visible bonds of mothers and daughters.

But I don't have any pictures like that. Honestly, I have maybe 4-5 pictures with my mom total. Ever.

My mom never took me prom dress shopping. She stopped driving when I was about 13, because she didn't have consistent hand-eye coordination. I am so grossly envious of all of the moments--big and small--that most everyone has with their mom... I've accepted the fact that I won't have a wedding picture with my mom. But I'm just really torn up over what never will be. Because the truth is, in just over 27 years of having my mom, I honestly remember very little--which I think is a byproduct of all of that resentment from being young and not understanding the depth her pain. I have inadvertently blocked out a lot of memories from being young, and it's only in her being gone that I have really spent time thinking about what I so loved about her.

My mom loved the Dallas Cowboys. She was obsessed with Troy Aikman. She compulsively checked the weather (as I do), and whenever the news broadcast a story of a celebrity passing away, she cried. It didn't matter who it was--she always had a stock of tears (John Denver, Princess Diana, Conway Twitty, Jackie Kennedy, Sonny Bono, Eddie Rabbit come to mind). I think it might have been her means of release--she finally had a somewhat plausible reason to cry about something. Her signature scent was Calvin Klein Eternity, and for as diminutive as she was at 5'3", Connie could tell a dirty joke with the best of them.

I played softball for 10 years and my mom was truly my biggest fan. She maneuvered her way around the little league fields on a little gray scooter, purse at her feet, and was always perched right behind home plate, yelling, "let's go, Meg!" at any possible opportunity. Those are the moments that are most vivid in my mind.

Of all of the side effects of her endless list of medications, the strength of her nails was something that never suffered. She was so proud of her long, elegant nails, always painted a sleek red, or delicate pink. Even when she was bedridden in a nursing home, her favorite thing was a fresh manicure, always. "Look at my nails" is a phrase I've heard so, so many times.

I grew up in the same hometown that my mom grew up in. As a high school kid, I actually had several of the same teachers my mom had--and they remembered a version of her I never knew. She was always a vivacious, memorable and popular girl--often compared to Molly Ringwald (she was immensely proud of the fact that she attended not one, but three proms her junior year). She had an endless sweet tooth--making divinity (ew) was her favorite go-to candy. She must have drank a half-dozen Dr. Peppers a day.

I'd never seen her happier than when I made eighth-grade cheerleader. I was teary as I climbed into the mini-van of my best friend, my mom sitting in the backseat, waiting on the news. She shrieked and threw her arms around me as we made our way to my softball game, already in progress.

My mom was completely obsessed with Super Nintendo--especially Monopoly. She was so crafty--always swindling us out of Boardwalk and Park Place--and never tiring of hours of button mashing. She'd actually wake me up in the middle of the night to play with her--even if I had school the next morning. It breaks my heart to think she had nothing else to do so late at night, her medication often cuing a bout of insomnia. So she'd shake me away until I reluctantly rolled out of bed to play her real estate victim for the next hour.

I look a little like her--I did more when I was young. I have her eyes and her laugh, I think. Oddly enough, when I clear my throat, I hear her the clearest. I have her sarcastic drive, her impulsive tongue--so many of her mannerisms. But I wish I had more.

So, as much of a pity party as this is, just hug your mom. If not today, then the next time you see her. Try to refrain from rolling your eyes the next time she says something ridiculous. Know that your time is short--as depressing as it sounds, you don't have forever. If there's something you want to know, ask her now. Ask her the name of the boy she first kissed. Ask her, when she was a child, what she wanted to be when she grew up. Ask her what her favorite memory as a kid was, or what the biggest fight she had with her mom was. Or what the best meal of her life was. There are so many simple, ridiculous things I wish I knew, that I won't ever know.

Love you, mom. I miss you so much--but I really miss your laugh.


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