Today is the second Mother’s Day I’m spending without my mom. When she died two years ago, there were days filled with tears and pain and loneliness and…gratitude. I remember being so beautifully surprised during those first months of grieving-surprised with the gift of gratitude during the lowest point in my life.
I remember asking myself and my husband and my soul sisters “How can it be possible, to feel so much gratitude while I am grieving? How can I be smiling and welcoming the sun on my face while walking one moment and then crying the next?”
As I sit here two years later, drinking a warm cup of coffee cuddled in my favorite blanket, listening to the birds outside (which my Mom sends just for me,) I know the answer. By allowing the grief to take me away in some moments – take me away like the undertow of the ocean, pulling me in and knocking my around like a rag doll – and spitting me back out in a big wave onto the shore, I was able to resurface. Each time I resurfaced, I was grateful I made it out, grateful I loved so much to feel so much in the first place. And I felt grateful for the deep and lasting love I shared with my Mom.
Now hold up a second – this didn’t come to me immediately. During those thrash abouts in the ocean of grief and the subsequent washing ashore, I did not know why I was able to feel gratitude. I didn’t care why, I just went with it. It’s taken two years for me to understand it and embrace both it….and the grief.
Time has helped me heal because I allowed the grief in, whenever it decided to pay a visit. And grief still comes along two years later. Out of nowhere. And I welcome it in, sometimes begrudgingly, and let myself feel. Again.
But the gratitude? For my Mom? For the life she gave me? What she taught me and what she didn’t? It is just as big as that damn grief. No – it’s bigger. Two years in, whether I’m crying or laughing or smiling at a memory of my Mom, all I can feel is gratitude.
I’m grateful to have been loved unconditionally. I’m grateful I felt safe in her arms. I’m grateful to have been accepted, despite my imperfections. I’m grateful for her smile. I’m grateful for the forts she made for my brother and I. I’m grateful for her cooking. I’m grateful for the way she would take over my kitchen. I’m grateful for her laugh. I’m grateful for the times she frustrated me and I’m grateful for the arguments we had. I am grateful that she was sometimes needy and how that made me pull away from her. I am grateful that her anxiety, that became my anxiety, was the catalyst for me to begin the journey of managing my challenges with depression and said anxiety.
You see, I am grateful for all of it. Even the crappy parts of our relationship. There was a lot of crap there. It was so not perfect. But it was ours. My Mom and I were put on this Earth together to learn from one another. And I’m grateful we said all we needed to say before she died. I’m grateful I’ve learned all the good and all the bad from her. I kept the good and worked on the bad.
And that has left me with only love. Love for the woman who brought me into this world, loved me, nurtured me, played with me, held me. Loved me. She loved me. She loved me so damn much.
So when my grief comes (and it doesn’t come as often anymore – that is a blessing,) I’m ok with it. And I focus not only on the loss, but on how much of my Mom’s love is still with me, every day and every hour. Her love is flowing in every cell. And it makes me smile. It allows me to live fully with the most grateful of hearts.