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Surviving Mother's Day Without My Mother

"It's hard celebrating moms without my own."
Sometimes we can feel sadness in a place that we feel even the greatest joy can’t reach. I’ve ached there many days – especially on Mother’s Day. I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 9 years old. Her doctor saw the lump too late and she never stood a chance. I’ve had 19 Mother’s Days since then to learn how to survive the holiday without her, but still, some years are much harder than others. It’s those years that I can’t bare to walk down the card aisle or visit a restaurant that serves brunch. I contemplate staying in because everywhere I go reminds me of what my life is missing. Some years I just push through, as if it’s any other day. Other days I wake up feeling like there’s a gaping hole in my heart. It’s hard celebrating moms on a day when yours is not with you, but it does get easier.

Most times these feelings are foreign to an optimist like me. Even on the worst of days I always believe it’s best to get up and face the music rather than just lie down and accept defeat.

Each Mother’s Day I feel doomed to succumb to my emotions before I’ve even gotten up to face them. I don’t know why or how I ever get up those days, but I do rise and face the day. Maybe it’s because I know there are other special mothers in my life and I need to show them love and gratitude because they deserve it. They are still here. Maybe it’s that even in my saddest hours I know better than to just feel sorry for myself – especially over something I cannot change. Whatever the reason, I always manage to make it onto my feet and search for memories that will help me get through the day. One of them is always this photo. It’s one of the four old photos I actually have of my mother and I together, and although I don’t remember the moment we took it firsthand, I do remember the many moments of comfort it has brought me since her death. I look at this picture and I feel her love. I love how she’s looking at me, and the expression on her face. I love how happy I look in her arms, and I love that her pride in me shines right through the age of the print.

It’s photos like these that catapult me back to a happier, less painful place on Mother’s Days. Sometimes when we’re trying to swallow and digest extreme amounts of emotional pain, it takes only a reminder of how good we felt before the pain to begin to feel better. Whether your mother is here today to celebrate with you, or whether she’s a resident of a better place, please know that her love and her pride in you will surround you always. I believe it’s that love that lifts us up on our weakest days, when the love around us just can’t seem to carry the weight. Be thankful for your mother, but don’t be angry if she’s not here. Celebrate the love you shared with her today if you cannot celebrate her in the flesh.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.