So this is my first Mothers’ Day without Mom. Part of me wishes I could have just holed up in my room and ignored the world: not have seen the girls holding balloons that said “MOM” on the subway or the numerous Facebook posts saying I love my mom. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
Well. I can tell you that the first thing you do is cry a lot. But you’ll want to keep it mostly together for the EMTs. Their job is easier if you’re not in hysterics. You offer them gummy bears. It’s nine in the morning. Your mother’s body is cooling in the next room. Her blood is on your shoes. They refuse the gummy bears.
But it’s not your mother lying in her bed with the sheet pulled over her face. It can’t be her. Your mom wakes up early so she can take forever in the bathroom. She asks you whether her hair looks better up or down when honestly to you she always just looked like Mom either way: you couldn’t see her in any other light or capacity. In your mind you see Mom in a serviceable black dress with her hair up yelling that you’re making her late. But the next morning she’d be the one making you late, her favorite boots unzipped even as you ran together for the train. Then Mom in the last few days: too weak to get out of bed.
There’s no way she’s gone. You need her. Who else will call you baobao in public or remind you not to get home too late? Who else will make your favorite foods when you’ve been away from home? Who else will need you like Mom?
The next thing you do is…no, you’ll still cry a lot. For good reasons or for no reason. Without meaning to, even. In the most awkward settings possible. When that doesn’t cut it your brain tries laughing. And you can see the way her best friend stares at you, a worried crease between her eyebrows. You know she will distantly adopt you now: hover slightly more than she ever did in the past, make you a Chinese dinner sometimes because now Mom can’t.
It’s really her friends that trigger the next thing you feel: the incredible guilt for the selfishness you’re displaying. All of the people Mom touched in her life come out of the woodwork: discreetly asking if you need help with college, buying flowers for the frankly rushed funeral. Talking to your grandmother about what her life will become.
You’re not the only one who’s lost her, you selfish idiot. All these other people have as well. You miss the woman who cooked for you, who took care of you. You haven’t missed the woman she was outside of your life. If you mourn her, mourn all of her. You’ve been raised already. Mourn that she still had other work on this earth.
It doesn’t work. For a couple days you want to die. This is well after the funeral, mind you. The funeral was actually beautiful. You could see her again, face made peaceful. There’s no blood on her teeth. She’s in her favorite dress (a particularly Jackie O number—a cut that neither you nor your sister could ever pull off) and surrounded by flowers. Why does she have to be put into the earth? Why can’t you just keep her in that room, so that you could go and see her whenever you wanted?
You’ll never visit her in the earth. You’re almost certain of this. There’s no point. She’s not there. She’s off wandering in the canyons or watching the slow dance of stars in the night sky. You hope she doesn’t think of you, doesn’t even remember who you are.
Because you’ll still find ways to disappoint her. You know you will. And you’ll do them anyway. Spend your life throwing yourself into “boys’ work” or staying out too late roaming the streets. Write things that would make her sad. Write things she would hate. Listen to degenerate music. Cut your hair or get tattoos.
This is where the social workers come in, maybe. You’ll have to talk to many of them, and they’ll tell you to stop feeling guilty about it. Stop sabotaging your relationships with other people. To let yourself be sad.
But the only way to do that is to completely forget her. And you’ve tried. But she’s saturated in your life. You need to make some more memories without her. She shows up everywhere in your town, or you’ll dream of her. She’ll even haunt your thoughts at night when you can’t sleep.
You’ll try to scrub her from your life: throw yourself into school and work. Start a fucking blog. Keep doing the things she hates so from wherever she is she’ll make you feel guilty. Because you love her disappointment.
You love the woman she was. You love your mother, who gave you her flesh and blood.
I don’t know what comes after this in post-Mom life. This is only as far as I’ve gotten.