When Our Mothers Die

I wrote this during a memorial service for a friend’s mother, who died this spring. I just came home from a funeral for the mother of another dear friend. We are all adults and losing our mothers and it kind of stinks.

When Our Mothers Die We Come Unmoored

When our mothers die we come unmoored.
There is no one to call on a Wednesday night to ask how you can tell if frozen food is still good; how you know if you’re really sick or just have a normal cold; or the best way to get a stain out of your favorite shirt.

There is just you.

If you’re lucky, you have someone–a husband, a wife, a roommate, a best friend–to puzzle over these things with you. But still,
it’s just you and your little brain
in your car, alone, at 8:15 on a Monday morning looking for someone to tell you that everything will be fine in a way that makes you actually believe it.

When your mother dies, there is no one to tell you that you’re doing things right, or
more crucially,
about to make a faulty major life decision.

If you’re lucky, you and your little brain will someday be called “Mom.”
If you’re lucky,
if you want it,
you will become the center of another human being’s universe,
a human who will ask you the best way to lace your shoes
or make chocolate chip cookies.
Your method of making scrambled eggs will live on it another person’s little brain
as the best and only way to make them.

You will teach and instruct and advise and
someday,
somehow
you will come to know the answers to all the questions this young human being may pose.
If you don’t know, you will make them up,
but you will never lie.
Just as you suddenly knew all the words to every song in the top 40
when you hit 8th grade,
you will just know.
And you will trust your gut and will be able to answer all the questions
except the one about why one day
you will unmoor your child.

2 thoughts on “When Our Mothers Die

  1. You will have days, sixteen years later, when you miss her like it was yesterday.
    You will shake your head and be astounded that you indeed are unmoored.
    You will wish your children had the opportunity to sit on her lap and be wrapped in her love… You alone will have to do, and some days it will be enough.

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