“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected ways.” Hope Edelman (Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss)
I became a motherless daughter when I was sixteen years old. This was almost 11 years ago… I lost her to cancer. As I have aged and gone through different phases and stages of life the “longing” for her has come like rapid fire emerging out of nowhere. While other times it is subtle and more like a pinched nerve that only hurts when I move a certain way. Being pregnant without my mom has definitely felt like that pinched nerve at certain moments and other moments it’s like I’m reliving her death and that gasping-for-air-grief all over again.
During my first trimester when I was hospitalized multiple times due to being dehydrated and so sick, I wondered what her pregnancies were like and if she was sick too. I laid up in my mother-in-law’s house for weeks, puking every 20-40 minutes, dry heaving even 12+ hours after I attempted to eat. I laid there everyday so thankful I had this wonderful lady who took care of me like she was my mom, but I also laid there feeling guilty and sad.
As I progressed into the second trimester and started feeling Geneveive kick, I wanted to talk to my mom about those wonderful flutters. I wanted to ask her about stretch marks and how much weight she gained. Now, in my third trimester, I long for her to know her first grand-baby. To have her in the room with me during labor, to call and cry to her when I’m having an anxiety attack because I don’t feel prepared, to simply talk to her about this new journey. Some days it’s in the back of my mind and others it is a blazing forest fire ripping through me.
I want my mom here and that is selfish because I know heaven is beyond anything I could imagine. I feel guilty because I have been blessed with different motherly figures throughout my adulthood and it’s a fine line between letting them love me like their own and feeling like I’m leaving my mom behind. There are so many emotions (some irrational) that come with grief and loss. I feel heartbroken because my daughter will never know this amazing woman who I called my mom. I feel ashamed when I think about all the ‘fill-in’ grandma’s my daughter will have because what if that hurts my mom? I know it’s probably irrational to think that way because God gave me these incredible women to talk to and love me–but it does not make the thoughts go away.
There are times when her death lays on my chest like an elephant suffocating me… I wonder if I am allowed to be loved by other motherly figures. It is okay to have these second families that I spend my time, holidays, etc with? Does it make me a bad daughter to not mourn her at all times? I feel it becomes harder to accept love from others–that I should return the love, gifts, favors, advice with another gift or money. I know God did not take my mom as punishment, but I find myself wanting to punish myself for letting other people in.
I know as I grow older, the longing for her will still not fade. There will always be a need for my mom–questions I have, stories I want to share, other babies I want her to meet… I was blessed to have my mother for sixteen years and I am so thankful for our time, but it was not enough.
Side Note: losing my mother so young did create a special bond between my siblings and I. My little brother has blossomed into this amazing young man who is wise beyond his years. My older sister is a role model, a take-charge and keep us in-line beautiful soul who consistently reminds us the value and importance of family. She is so much like my mom and it is wonderful having her around to keep that memory even more vibrant. God works in mysterious ways that we don’t always understand, but I know our relationship was a small part of his bigger plan.