CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This is my fifth Mother’s Day without my mom.
Many of you are going through your first, and those “firsts” are tough — whether it’s Mother’s Day, a birthday, an anniversary or that first holiday.
I dedicate this column to all of you who are dealing with loss on this Mother’s Day. It may not even be your mother. Maybe it’s your wife, grandmother or a sister who was a mother to someone else.
These are powerful triggers that start building before a holiday event — and endure after it’s over.
And I’ve found it doesn’t have so much to do with any traditions. It’s the void.
Like the old saying reminds us, “Nature abhors a vacuum.”
We rush to fill up those empty spaces. And it’s a rude awakening when we can’t.
Others can step in to fill roles — a relative, a blended family member or a close friend. As we all know, though, it’s not quite the same.
If this is a “first” for you, you may be feeling numb.
In the aftermath of my loss, I remember thinking, “Nothing I do today is of any significance.” I wondered if I’d ever regain my zest for life.
As trite as it sounds, time did heal some things. And I’m now able to look back and remember my mom (and dad) with more nostalgia and less grief.
Right from the beginning I’ve felt that my mom is still with me. I feel her spirit all around me, and I’ve had lots of dreams about her — all positive.
That has faded a bit as time has gone on. It’s still very present, though. And I definitely call it forth as I continue to honor and respect the bond.
After Mom made her transition, I didn’t have all those doctor’s appointments, lab tests, grocery store and drugstore runs on her behalf. I had more time in my life, and a good friend cautioned me to be very careful about how I filled that space. After all, it would be a shame to have this once sacred time sucked away by the minutiae of the moment.
I’ve done my best to follow this advice as a way of honoring Mom.
Speaking of honoring our mothers, I’ve been reflecting on some of the best tidbits I’ve received from you as we approach another Mother’s Day together.
One of my favorite parts of writing this column is the feedback I get and the dialogue that often takes place as we explore topics further. We learn from one another, and here are some of the things I’ve learned from you and others over the years as we’ve sought comfort together:
n Be gentle with yourself. Act like you’ve just had open-heart surgery. This is a significant life event.
n No one understands what it’s like to lose a parent until it happens. You’ll never forget.
n You always know you honor your mother every day — by who you are and how you live.
n I inhale my mother daily — her strength, her attitude, her convictions.
n Your mother is always with you. She’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and the fragrance of life itself.
n Your mother lives inside your laughter. She’s the place you came from — your first home — and she’s the map you follow with every step you take.
n Your mother is your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy.
n Nothing on earth can ever separate you — not time, not space, not even death.
As always, I welcome your feedback as we continue this life journey.
Although it’s been five years for me, it’s still very raw for many of you, including my childhood friends Patty Johnston, Jane Showalter and Barbara Turner Slone, who have recently become members of the “first” club.
Rest assuredly in the knowledge that Pat’s and Cynthia’s love for you will never, never, never die.
Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a certified wellness instructor, psychological counselor and syndicated columnist. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, P & A Enterprises, 1401 Somerlayton Drive, Charleston, WV 25314 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.