Each year I have the same battle. Mother’s Day. It is both an internal struggle and an emotional turmoil. Internally, I ask whether my story of the matriarchal holiday means anything to anyone but me? Emotionally, my heart breaks because the woman for whom I dedicate my success, my mother, passed away in May of 2003—I was a senior in high school, a week away from graduation—-on Mother’s Day.
10 years goes by really fast, and as friend once told me, reflecting on the anniversaries of death, ” It never gets easy, it only gets easier.” The blunt force trauma of losing a mother is unimaginable. I remember the day well. It was Mother’s Day 2003– At this point I was living with my best friend’s parents who had agreed to give me a stable place to stay as my mother fought heart disease. My mother was in the hospital that day in Charlotte. I remember going to church that morning and the Sunday school teacher giving us time at the end of the otherwise super boring class to go into the sanctuary and pray for whatever we wanted to. I knew exactly what I wanted that day. I sat in a lonely pew close to the aisle, bowed my head and pleaded with my Lord to wrap his arms around my mom, for his Grace to give her the solace of that place where diseases didnt matter. To this day it was the hardest I have ever prayed. After church, my second family went to a Mother’s Day lunch and then home. I debated calling my mom…but I didnt—-I knew she would be resting and I didnt want to pester her. It was also a big study day for me…the Advanced Placement Biology exam was scheduled for the next day. Success was important to my mom—and my doing well was paramount to her. I sat down for several hours, overwhelmed with charts, graphs, and more biology terminology than one could ever use. The phone rang….it was Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte….It was about my mom and they wanted me to come right then.
My second Mom rushed me along, telling me to bring my books to study on the way. I refused to think the worst because I knew my fighter. We had done this dance too many times before. Her smiling face was always inevitable after these traumatic exercises. This time was different. After arriving to the hospital, the doctor placed me in the darkest room I had ever seen. I could hear the clock ticking…. The plain physician walked in and said….”She’s gone…..there was nothing we could do.” My world went into black and white—–I didnt cry immediately because the energy to produce tears fled my body as the words left his lips.
There were some hard days and nights where sleep was only a dream. I questioned God. I questioned my prayer. I questioned my two families mutual decision to have me live in a more stable environment. I questioned my pursuit of success. I swore to forever hate Mother’s Day. What an evil God who would take a mother on the day mean to celebrate them?
A little over a week later—I gave the Salutatory address at my high school. The most important person in the world to me—the person I was doing this for….wasn’t there in the body. However, the light of her spirit—blindingly present. I realized something that night which now seems to be a blur. I realized Mother’s Day should be a celebration—-not because of what was taken on that day, but for what was given on every day until the last breath left her tired body. My mom, Yvette , was a single mother who worked every day( until she physically couldnt) to take care of 5 kids. She told us to work hard too! She would tell me to “get an education, because baby thats something no one can take away from you.” I can hear that sass in her voice. I also rejoice because she made the decision to make sure I would be taken care of …no matter what happened to her. She asked my best friend’s parents to take me…to give stability during her medical and financial instability. That decision…that agreement was bound my a love for me and a respect for a Mother’s love.
My second family, The Whitaker family had stepped in years before to offer that stability. My mom was always grateful to them for this. I was the really the lucky one. My second mama Darlene has been a blessing. I remember the night my mother passed away, sitting at the dinner table with tears streaming down my face and Darlene staring me straight in the eye. “We will take care of you..everything is going to be alright.” I believed it. Darlene became a mother—not my sole mother but another mother. She is kind, thoughtful, funny, and understanding.
Mother’s Day still will never be easy—its the day I lost a mother. However, I do find solace in knowing that my Mom loved me so..she lived her entire life to make me a better person and that she made sure that even when she was gone—a Mother’s love wouldnt be far away. Each day I feel her grace in the quiet moments when the sound of everyday life isnt drowning—–I feel her spirit each day when I hear mama Darlene’s voice. On Sunday—celebrate Mother’s Day, both the ones we have lost and the ones whom are still living. Let them know you love them—-make sure they feel how thankful you are. Most of all…never underestimate the power of a Mother’s love on your life.