Yesterday my sister-in-law and I walked along the beach with our families. We are both mothers who lost our own mothers way too soon. I have a collection of shells that my mom and I started when I was little. I mentioned it and soon we were picking up shells to add to my collection.
She asked me how I was doing this Mother’s Day. I said I was doing fine. It is my second Mother’s Day since my mom died but she had been brain injured in a nursing home for 21 years before that, so many, many Mother’s Days have come and gone since we could celebrate together. I told her that over the years I had gotten used to it and that it was actually easier now knowing that she is at peace and not suffering anymore.
I asked her how she was doing and she said much the same. We talked about things that triggered grief for us. It is often the less obvious things. I thought about what a blessing it is to have someone to share with. I wish she hadn’t had to go through the pain of losing her mom but I love that we “get” each other. It’s a blessing to be able to share in each other’s loss.
We had such a lovely Mother’s Day together. We walked the beach, we shopped in Palm Beach and had a lovely dinner out with our families. It really was a perfect day.
But on the our 4 hour drive home, in the quiet of the car, the grief started to make it’s way up from deep in my heart. As I read the various posts about moms and saw beautiful pictures of women my age with their beautiful mothers I realized I was not really doing fine.
I was doing what I always do. I was ignoring the pain. I knew what the rest of the night would be like. I would be at war with my emotions trying to distract myself so the emotions wouldn’t win, tossing and turning unable to sleep.
But instead of my regular routine, I decided to do something different. When we got home, I let Danny in on what was going on in my head. He listened as I told him how conflicting it was to be so blessed and so happy but to also have this hollow void down deep.
We took out the shells we had collected, I got out the jar of shells that my mom and I began when I was little and we started looking through them. Suddenly the void was filled with memories…sweet ones. I told him stories of how my mom would take us to Jones Beach in the winter to play on the beach. I cried a little and released the grief and remarkably, I felt much better.
I realized that joy and pain can coexist.
Maybe this allowing myself to feel stuff is going to be okay after all.