Mom collage paterson pink dressMemories, Mom Scenes and Songs that make us Sob:
Navigating the Mothership of Grief on Mother’s Day – A Tour Guide

Step away from the card aisle. No, seriously. My golden rule is and has always been not to go near any card aisle during the Mother’s Day season.. Partially because Mom was a greeting card Ambassador…like actually worked for Ambassador Greeting cards. For real. I can recall going with her to the Mill Creek Mall in Secaucus and spending hours in Sam Goody shopping for cassettes while she updated the card stock in the supermarket there. Cards were here thing. Little did I know back in the early 90’s that those cards would someday be my own personal troll triggers of grief.

I have been sailing on the Grief Mothership for over twenty years. I used to navigate this vessel of heartbreak in only the roughest of seas. I chose to be consumed with my mother’s death and allow it to cast an iron shell around myself. I refused to sail near the sun and the calm waters. I felt an obligation to my grief. I was drawn to it. I felt that I would be a horrid daughter if I lifted the veil of iron sadness and for even a second didn’t exist in the shadow of my grief. And boy did that fuck me up. I mean it. BIG TIME. My grief catapulted me into my own obesity and food addiction. I charted that course of self destruction despite the blessings and love of my post Mom death life. My husband, my kids my friends and family….I existed among them but I wasn’t living. No. I was stuck on that fucking ship and I really REALLY needed to find a Port of Peace. And the whole time I existed this way it never once occured to me that this behavior would be the last thing my Mother wanted for me . It took twenty years for me to get this …

T W E N T Y  Y E A R S.

Each passing year the Mother’s Day “season” would internally destroy me. I almost welcomed it. When you lose your mom, at least for me, I found a strange comfort in torturing myself with the all the Mom movies and all the Mom songs that literally would break my spirit even more. Like when a person cuts themselves to block the emotional pain. I equate this behavior to that same act. I mean, how many times could I listen to Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” – and wait for that haunting scream singing… “Oh darling…make it go away… make it go” … she was talking about grief… the stabbing pain of it. I can recall marathons of Mom flicks… I once watched The Joy Luck Club twice in a row.. Hands down the greatest Mom Daughter film ever made. There is a scene when one of the members recalls the morning of her Mother’s death. In voice over she states clearly that her Mother chose the date of her death to have power over her enemies. A strong and mystical account. I nearly fell off the couch because my Mom’s death was a brutal week of maybe she’ll live to …yeah… no nevermind… she’s not going to make it. Doctors couldn’t understand nor explain how she was still surviving despite a massive heart attack post cardiac stent surgery followed by an emergency bypass surgery when two days after she still held on. TIGHT. There was a reason. The morning my Mom passed I remember looking at the clock and then gazing at my Dad. IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY. Although I believe my Mom forgave my Dad for his long term affair with a real life Cruella De Ville meets Ursula from the Little Mermaid meets Mona, Cosmo’s GOOMAD in Moonstruck… (yes still bitter lol) .. I know in my heart that she held on to pass on his birthday so he would never forget how much she loved him and to never allow that evil mistress to have a birthday with my Dad where the memory of my Mom didn’t haunt her.

I once repeated the scene in StepMom when Julia Roberts describes her stepdaughter’s wedding day without her mom.. “Look down the road… I’m fixing her veil .. and she looks and says I WISH MY MOM WAS HERE”… I would watch that scene over and over again.. snots and mascara rolling down my neck… sobbing… torturing… why?  YouTube… omg … just stay away from youtube .. I would listen to “You and Me Against The World” and remember my Mom humming it to me while driving in our 1984 Cadillac El Dorado Baritz…Champagne Gold … like her hair… that memory still takes me down.

One fine Saturday Night Live evening a few years ago… a new band called Alabama Shakes performed a song that has become one of my favorites. Not just a favorite.. a top five favorite. The name of the song is Hold On. When the lead singer Brittany belted out this war cry of survival. I. WAS. IN. AWE.

“So, bless my heart,
Bless my mind,
I got so much to do,
I ain’t got much time
So, must be someone up above
Saying come on baby girl,
You got to get back up.
You got to hold on.
Yeah you got to hold on”

It was as if I could hear my Mom saying “STOP LIVING LIKE THIS. GET UP. HOLD ON.”
I heard her. Loud and clear.

The truth is this. The only way to navigate your Grief Mothership is to take with you all those memories of her love. Feel the joy in those moments and relive them. SMILE. TRY. She wants you to be happy. I know my Mom does. I know she wasn’t fully at peace all these years because I was obsessed with my grief and not living. I know in my core this was the complete opposite of what she wanted for my living after her dying. It may have taken me many years to learn and to heal but now that I have I feel an obligation to show others that I finally sailed my ship into warm and serene seas. You can too. You have to. Live each day in the light of her love and memory. The last thing our Mom Angels want is for us to live in the dark and stay in the storm. Let her guide your ship.
Have a Happy Mother’s Day. HAPPY. Got it?   GOOD OXOXO