This afternoon, I attended a funeral service for the mother of a friend of mine, who passed away suddenly last week.
It was the first such service I have attended since Mom’s death, and I was, frankly, quite nervous about going. Historically, I don’t do well at funerals, anyway, and usually end up sitting in the back, trying not to make a spectacle of myself with my audible sobs. I usually carry my own cushy tissues so that my nose will be comfy and I won’t hog the box provided by the funeral home.
Today, I navigated the experience much better than expected. In fact, much better than the last several funerals I’ve attended. I wonder if it’s because I cry all the time these days anyway? Maybe pent-up grief isn’t bursting to get out at the moment. I did cry today, but I wasn’t wrecked for the day, and was able to talk to my friends and be functional.
As I am watching my friend walk through this experience, I imagine that she might be feeling similarly to how I was feeling 8 months ago. I remember distinctly the first ten days being surreal, and feeling almost as though I had the flu. I remember how hard it was to grasp the realization that I no longer had a mother.
Disclaimer: I understand that life and relationships are complicated, and this may not be your personal experience. But, as a rule, there is no love like the love that a mother has for her child. I am certain that there isn’t a greater pain than losing a child, as the love is so powerful. But, I have come to believe that losing a mom, while, sadly, not an incredibly unique experience, carries a special kind of pain that bears some deep consideration.
When my mom died, I was not surprised to find that I grieved. But I was surprised by the void that was left when I realized that she wouldn’t be texting me at two a.m. when I was out delivering a baby to make sure I was safe. That I didn’t need to poke my head into her room and let her know when I got home. Honestly, before she died, I found the fact that I had to check in with my mom at the age of 37 a little annoying, but now that I had no one to check in with, it felt very lonely
Because, you see, there is no one that will ever love you as much a mom. We were a part of our moms. We exist because we grew and were nurtured in our moms’ bodies. There is evidence that our mothers carry our cells and we may even carry her cells in our bodies for the rest of our lives after she is pregnant with us. There is no one who will look at you and only see love, and not your flaws (okay, your little baby or toddler might look at you like that, but once they hit a certain age, your perfection will diminish.)
It’s a lonely feeling to realize that the person who cared the most about whether I was safe and whole is not here anymore.
I am not saying this to be a downer, truly, but just to illustrate the significance of this club so many of us are in, or will join at some point. Until I was in this club, I didn’t have any idea what it really meant. I still might not know, but I’ve had a little bit of time to sit with it now.
Losing a mom is a special loss. When I lost mine, friends who have been in the club for a while hugged me and looked at me with knowing in their eyes. This is a loss that we will feel lifelong. This is a loss that will visit us on holidays and when milestones come and go. This loss will be felt when we are alone, hurting or scared and need the comfort that only a mother can give us.
Today, I hugged my friend and looked at her with this knowing in my eyes. Tonight, I am going to think about her and wish for her comfort as she settles into this new life.
And I am going to think about moms. About their vital contribution to our existence, our formation as humans, in both the physical and emotional sense. About their love, hugs and snuggles, nagging and pestering. Their perfection in their imperfection.
And I’ll cry a few more tears, both happy and sad, for all of us in this club.