Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mother's Day

Tomorrow will be mom's third anniversary in heaven. It seems incredible that it's been three years since that Mother's Day afternoon when I kissed her cheek for the last time. 1,096 days since I held her hand, caressed her face, or heard her voice. The numbers are just as painful even when they're smaller...three Christmases without her, three birthdays, three Mother's Day, one grandchild's confirmation. Big and little moments diminished without her. Without her bigger than life presence, her smile, her wit.

A very old picture of Mamá and me (ignore my E.T.-like fingers).
Her presence is still a constant in my life, whether it be through my memories, photos, or mementos, including the gold necklace she gifted me with and which I wear around my neck today and everyday. I can close my eyes and still see her face clearly without a photograph to refresh my mind. The deep creases across her forehead, maybe from all the worrying after raising two at times troublesome sons; or the brown beauty mark located right on the bridge of her nose. Oh, and these two tiny little holes she had exactly on either side of her nose (I think they were just oversized pores), which reminded me of a little bird. I used to joke with her about them all the time. I remember hugging her and her body would fit just so; the top of her head snuggled right underneath my chin; and I'm only 5'2".

Her voice is the only thing that's gone, at least during the waking hours, though I still hear it clearly in my dreams. The first time I realized I'd forgotten, I quickly rummaged through my things, remembering the one place I knew I could find it, my brother's wedding video. I fast-forwarded through the old VHS tape, thanking God I still had my old VCR, and then finally, at 43:42 in the video, my mom. "Hola mija" (a term of endearment or shortened Spanish of 'mi hija', my daughter) were her exact words. It was during the reception. I hadn't seen her for a bit because I was in the wedding party and we'd been kept apart from the wedding guests during the cocktail hour until they officially introduced the wedding party as well as the bride and groom; but I had snuck out and gone down to say hello. She'd been giving the videographer a tight awkward smile, looking anywhere but at the camera, when she'd looked to the side and seen me coming. After all the searching, it seemed perfectly apropos for those to have been her first words on the tape.

Mom was my life for so much of my life; as I've said in the past, she gave my life purpose. I keep myself busy with work and find joy in my family and friends, but as for a life's purpose, I can't say that I've found anything to fill the void she left behind. I volunteer and do countless little 'do good' projects, but in all honesty, it's not the same as knowing you're truly needed by someone. Nonetheless, I hope she's proud.

Some weeks ago I was at Wal-Mart with my brother and the boys. We separated to do some shopping. After I'd finished I was looking for them and couldn't find them, so I started up the aisles, calling out their names in a loud voice. When I finally found them, my brother answered, exasperated and embarassed by my loudness, "we're here...geesh, you're just like mom." In that moment, I remembered all the times she used to do that to me, and I'd used that same exasperated tone. He said the same another time when I was trailing behind as we walked from a field to a car. You know what I say to that, if every day I became a little more like my mother, then I couldn't be prouder because she was pretty amazing.

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to wish all the moms out there a very Happy Mother's Day this Sunday. To my own mom, gone but never forgotten, "feliz dia mi querida mariposa."