My first Mother’s Day post back in 2011 shared a story about a kind gesture made by some neighbours. They called by to give me a bunch of daffodils in silent acknowledgement of the sadness I’d be feeling on Mother’s Day, having miscarried our first baby the month before. I ended that post with ”special thoughts to Mothers without children and children without Mothers” and imagined the anguish of women all around the world reliving their pain at losing a child. I could never have imagined then that a year later I would get to celebrate my first Mother’s Day (and with a trip to the allotment with my newborn son!)
The next time I posted about Mother’s Day in 2017 I wrote ”I am deeply thankful that I get to Mother my boys but I still hesitate to celebrate it proudly as I know the deep sadness many women (and indeed men on Father’s Day) feel for what lies just out of reach for them.” I shared Cheryl Lawrie’s beautifully insightful poem ‘‘For all who aren’t” and counted my blessings for our miracle boys. Again I thought of children growing up without a parent and of a friend who’d described the pain of being ”a Motherless Mother”.
Last year I shared my Mother’s Day post with 6 year old Euan’s answers to 23 questions about Mummy. I couldn’t have known then that it would be my last Mother’s Day with my Mum. I checked the calendar to see when Mothers Day was in 2018 and found an entry for ”Mother’s Day lunch at Mum’s”. I looked up the date in my photo archive and found pictures of the boys playing in Mum and Dad’s garden. I’d recently had some photography training with a friend and remembered applying some of his suggestions to snap them playing . This was the only photo capturing the boys in the same frame!
There are no photos of us adults on 11-3-18, Mothers Day 2018. No last Mothers Day photo of my Mum with me or with her grandsons. I probably allowed my awkwardness about asking other people to take a photo to persuade me of the thought ”I’ll get one next time”. I don’t recall whether I wrote my blog post before or after seeing Mum. But for all those Mother’s Day posts where I spared a thought for children growing up without their Mother’s I didn’t really think about grown ups living the rest of their life without a parent. I didn’t think of me celebrating Mother’s Day without my Mum.
I cherish the photos I do have of Mum. I love the story behind this photo and it warms my heart instantly that I asked Dad to snap us with our new hairdos. We’d never been to the hairdressers together as adults but I wanted to treat Mum and it coincided with my birthday. Mum’s hair had regrown after completing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer and it was early 2015 (6 months before we’d hear the news that the cancer had metastasised in her liver). When someone you love is living with cancer you always think you have more time as you live very much in the moment. Dad told me after Mum died that if they’d allowed themselves to acknowledge the worst they never could have kept going back to all the appointments. Mum faced living with cancer with such courage and I guess that transferred to us unknowingly too.
I know photographs aren’t everything but I do wish I’d taken more. I’ve realised by working on my 2018 photobook this week that I consciously took fewer and fewer photos with each cycle of chemo Mum went through. We saw Mum and Dad each week so it felt strange to interrupt the ordinary moments like drinking a cup of tea, reading to Euan or helping Luca with something by pulling out my camera. I think deep down I thought taking more pictures would highlight the fear that we might be experiencing our lasts with Mum so I was reserved and quietly cherished these moments. I can recall many Nana memories and am so thankful for that. But I’m sad to think I will inevitably forget some and that Luca is too small to have a real living memory of his Nana. In reflecting on this I’m grateful at least for all the memories and photos of Mum with her other grandchildren. In sharing these photos with Luca in years to come I trust that he will see Mum smiling at Euan or one of his cousins and feel the familiarity of it. To see the devotion as if it were him in the photograph.
(This is the only photo on my hard drive of a Mother tagged ”Mother’s Day’‘. I seem to be entirely absent from Mothers Day photos too!)
♥ With much love on Mother’s Day, especially if today is hard for you and your miss is big.