It’s that time of the year again and if you are a Motherless Daughter you feel it in every bone in your body even if you are trying not to. Mother’s Day, for most is a joyous time to celebrate your mother. However for so many motherless daughters it is a time of deep sadness and it reminds us of a relationship we long for every single day. It brings us back to that moment when we learned our mothers were about to die.
It’s been 20 years since I lost my mother. I was 22 when she died but 11 when I lost her emotionally. My mother was ill, she had encephalitis an inflammation of the brain that left her brain damaged and she was never the same.
I was a Sophomore in college at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and I am about 5″5. It is my first year at a four year university and my dream of becoming an elementary teacher is well on it’s way. My life has not been easy my mother has been sick since I was 11. My father murdered when I was 16 leaving me to care for my mom and younger brother. I have lived with many families but I was determined to create a better life for myself in spite of all I had been through. Making the decision to go to college was difficult, my mom was young 47 and living in a group home. I always felt the responsibility of caring for her and the emotional responsibility of her happiness. Many days she sat in the old folks home creating crafts and calling me on the phone to let me know she wanted out. I envisioned finishing college and getting an apartment of my own where I could have her move in with me but I knew I had to finish college first.
The phone rang and it was my cousin on the line. She asked to talk to my college roommate and best friend who shared the same name as me. “I need you to put Angela on the phone”, she said. I did what I was told and handed the phone to my friend Angela.
Angela is like me she wears her heart and emotions on her sleeve. Angela and I met in Olympia, Washington while working at Nordstrom. Ang is strong, beautiful and always inspires me to be better. She has long lightly highlighted golden brown hair she is about 5″7 with long runners legs. She always jokes about having a shelf booty she claims she can put a tray on her booty and serve food. Angela is silly and she is in perfect shape the kind of shape that makes every guys head turn at WSU. We exercise together every morning, share stories and laugh about silly things like college girls do. We finish each others sentences, we both hate test, and school is something we do because we know we have to. We are both way better at being social then we are about being students. We host the dorm popcorn nights, we play the same song over and over again hitting repeat a million times and sing and dance like no one is looking. We are the Angela’s.
Angela put the receiver up to her ear and she listened intensely to my cousin, her eyes began to well up and I could tell something was really wrong. ” Ok, ok, ok, un ha, I understand” Angela said. Our dorm room was pink and covered in stripes and flowers. We had just won an award from Washington State University for the best decorated dorm. Our two lamps by our bedside where almost always on. Our mothers helped us set up our dorm rooms in the late summer before school. Angela sat in the right corner at my desk and nervously played with the telephone cord while listening to my cousin.
The room was still and a chill from the January morning Palouse air creeped though the cracks in the window seal not even the cosy lights by our bed could provide warmth for what was coming. Angela wasn’t looking at me she was focused on her fingernails and she began twisting the phone cord staring with intensity at my desk. “Ok”, she said as she handed the phone to me.
” Your mother has suffered a stroke and I need you to pack up a suitcase. I have arranged for your plane ticket and Angela is going to help you get ready she will bring you to the airport in Lewiston, Idaho in time for your flight”, my cousin said.
My stomach started turning as I listened to her words. I knew this had to be bad for her to book a ticket for me to Seattle which was a 5 hour drive over the mountains. ” Is she going to die?” I asked as my bottom lip started trembling up and down, my voice cracked and the tears instantly welling up.
” I don’t know”, but I need to you remain strong and get here as fast as you can”, my cousin replied.
Then from somewhere deep in the depths of soul I let out the most horrible sound imaginable. I wailed from the bottom of my toes and yelled,”Noooooo”. I hung up the phone ran down the hall to the dorm bathrooms on floor 4, opened the blue stall door and threw up until there was nothing left to do but gut wrench. My friend Angela followed me placing her hand on my back, holding my long blonde hair back making sure no puke or toilet water got on me. Tears streamed down her face we both knew this was it.
My Mother died January 11th, 1993 she was 47 I was 22. Since this time I have had children of my own, joined Motherless Daughters Groups, Motherless Mother Groups, had lots of therapy and I have learned how to mother myself. I am honoring her and myself by writing a Memoir a journey that is not easy balancing the emotions opening stuff I thought I found a place for.
On Mothers Day, when I walk past the card isle at target I can’t help but think of the moment I learned of the end of my moms life. I miss her, I long to hold her wrinkled hand and I imagine her snorting laughter as she watches her twin 8 year old grandsons. I watch interactions between my friends and their mothers and I imagine what it would be like to see her again. I know that she is with me, I can feel her presence in so many areas of my life. So this one goes out to all the Motherless Daughter on Mother’s Day! May you let your tears flow and know that you are not alone.