Time measures everything- beginnings, ends, durations, and intervals. It is an inescapable current. The anniversary of my mother’s death will always be difficult for me, not only because I can’t help but relive the memory of the worst day of my life but also because it measures another year of separation; the passing of another mile marker while her memory shrinks in the rearview mirror. My mom is cemented on the point that marks that November night, while the current of time is always carrying me further away. Sure, time heals, or at least softens, the kind of wounds that result from an untimely death. But the passage of time has induced a different kind of ache where, every year, the distance between her end and my present grows wider and heavier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally happy and grateful for all that I have in my life, but there’s always a dim undertone that ebbs and flows because an essential component of my life, quite literally a piece of me, is missing. And it feels as though time, in its relentless onward quest, takes a bit more of my mom from me every year.
It’s been eight years. Eight years since I’ve seen her, eight years since I’ve heard her laugh, eight years since I’ve felt her comforting presence. And those eight years are sprinkled with a series of milestones that I never thought I’d experience without her, the most significant of which was the birth of my own daughter. In the short time since my daughter’s arrival, there have been countless moments where I wished I had my mom to confide in or tell me about her own experiences as a new mom or just give me a pat on the back and tell me I was doing just fine. But I was prepared for that, I knew that motherhood would highlight the absence and renew the heartache. What I didn’t anticipate was regaining a sense of closeness with my mother.
Of course, everyone has a unique situation, but there are also several universal truths to motherhood, feelings that we all experience to some degree. For example, the immeasurable pride we feel in our kids’ accomplishments, no matter how small. Or, our newfound ability to handle bodily fluids without producing some of our own. Or, the near constant worry that you’re doing something wrong or that you won’t be able to protect your child from everything the world throws at them. For me, the new emotions of parenthood are sometimes overwhelming, but they’ve also provided me with a whole new appreciation and understanding for my own parents.
It is from this new perspective that I feel like I’m getting to know a new side of my mom. She may not be here for me to ask specific questions or to tell me exactly how she felt but I can appreciate the pleasures and heartaches she may have experienced in raising my brother and I. I’ll never be able to turn back time or stop the years from accumulating, but for the first time since my mom’s passing, the distance between us weighs a little bit less.