I have often written about my mom’s emotional absence, but this is the time of year she turned into the “Happy Mom.” This mom began appearing with the changing of the leaves and arrived by Halloween. Thanksgiving rolled around and she was still present, but by Christmas she was like Cinderella at the ball. Life was great until midnight New Years Eve. As the clock struck 12, the unhappy mom returned.
This is the time of year that I miss her the most because I have fallen in love with the nostalgia of a fairy tale Christmas. I am drawn to the old movies, snow, lights and the smells of Christmas. I have memories of sitting at the kitchen table cutting gumdrops into quarters and dropping them into her famous oatmeal gumdrop cookies. In the past I have tried to push through my feelings of loss and share some of those special moments with my children. My youngest daughter and I share the love of old movies, gumdrop cookies, matching Rudolph and Clarisse slippers, and nostalgia of the season. This year will be different and my daughter will be missing because she will be deployed. Our matching slippers will be separated. Mine will be with me and hers will be in a storage unit waiting for her return.
As I hugged her good-bye the sadness and emptiness of this holiday season became reality. I felt her soft silky hair against my cheek; smelled the lingering fragrance of her shampoo and tried to hold onto her for just one more minute. I could feel her body shake as she tried to hold back the tears. I knew she was scared; we had talked about it several times. This deployment was going to be harder for her than all the others. With her promotion came an increased responsibility, and she was aware of the unstable political climate in the region to which she was going. Helpless, I silently prayed for her safety and the safety of those deployed. I prayed for her strength and wisdom to do what she needed to do. I prayed for her return. Squeezing her just a little tighter I whispered, “It’s time. God’s speed. I love you. Let me know if you need anything. I will see you next month. Jeff and I will drop you off at the boat and pick up your car.”
She whispered back, “Yes, mamma. I love you too.” As she let go and walked away I thought I saw tears escape her eyes. I felt a piece of my heart being sucked out leaving the vacuum of a black hole. I watched her drive away and wondered, “How could someone so young (23) and small (5’5”) be put in such dangerous situations and have such great responsibilities?”
I waited until she was gone, turned my back and began crying. I wanted my mom. I have a list of questions for her but she is gone. I want to ask her: Am I supposed to hurt like this? Am I supposed to feel like this? Did you feel any sadness when I left home? How did you feel when my siblings left home? Did you worry if we had enough to eat or if we were cold, sick, or in danger? Is this how a mom is supposed to feel? Am I some kind of a nut job? I wanted to scream, “I hate being motherless. I want my MOM.” But there is no one to hear. I am engulfed in the silence of an empty house.
In all honesty I am tired of being a motherless daughter but I can’t change that. I can change the way I deal with my loss.
*I can surround myself with women that are wise and can support me through the tough times.
* I can be honest about my feelings.
* I can still make cookies and mail them to her and the people in her shop.
* I can make changes to the way I do things but still enjoy some of my favorite things.
*I can find ways to start new traditions.
*I can continue to spend time with the Lord praying and listening to how much He loves me.
*I can make a list of things I am thankful for.
*I can be thankful for a wonderful supportive husband.
*I can be thankful for the relationship I have with my two sons and two daughters.
*I can be thankful for a wonderful daughter-in-law.
*I can be thankful that I have a grandson and we can build memories.
*I am thankful that I can love them enough to let them leave and follow their dreams.
*I am thankful that I am brave enough to love and feel the pain.
Although this is the time of year I feel my losses the most, women may feel the weight of their losses at different times or seasons. What changes or adjustments can you make in the holiday seasons in your life?