My world filled with homemade cards and paper cups filled with dirt seedlings on Sunday. My girls were happy to give me their sweet gifts on Mother’s Day, but it was short lived because I had to work a shift in the ER. I had an unwelcome feeling creep into my gut on the way to work. An unsettling darkness settled over my head and I soon recognized that grief was creeping nearby. This was the first Mother’s Day without my dad. He passed away last June and my family is still wading through the muck of loss and trying to figure out life without him.
I couldn’t quite place why Mother’s Day was triggering such sadness for me. After a while I realized it was because my dad was such a good partner to my mom. He cared for her, cherished her, and appreciated her. He was incredibly affectionate towards her I remember him often looking at her and saying things like “Isn’t your Mom pretty?”I felt sad that my dad wasn’t here to cherish her. Her kids could do their best to make her feel appreciated and loved, but a big component of Mother’s Day is your partner celebrating with you.
My dad also taught me a valuable lesson growing up about how I should be treated. I was able to watch a man love and care for his wife. He was respectful and my parents truly were a team. When I chose my own husband, I had something to model our marriage after. I, too, chose someone that would love, respect and cherish me. What unspeakable gratitude I have for my parents and the healthy marriage I witnessed growing up.
My dad wasn’t perfect. Some of his purchases for my mom on Mother’s Day were absolutely cringe-able. There were outfits that were quickly returned, jewelry with questionable metals, but the sentiment was always genuine. I’m sure my mom had moments of feeling unappreciated, like we all do at times. But I know she never questioned whether or not she was loved.
Its interesting what pieces of my dad that I miss, and when they show up. I didn’t predict that grief would hit so strongly on a day that was supposed to be about celebrating ME and the other women in my life. That I would grieve the loss of my mom’s husband, separate from grieving my dad. It always catches me off guard and I never recognize grief right away. Its like this nebulous emotion that seems to come out sideways. But I acknowledge it and feel it, and try to move on because I think it would completely break me if I let it.
After working my shift on Mother’s Day I went home. I snuck into my kids’ room at one in the morning and woke them up. I know, bad mommy. We hugged and kissed and I know they appreciate and love me. Then I went and cuddled with my husband and felt thankful for him. The loss of my dad still hurts and it grips me by my throat sometimes. But the love of my family is a balm that soothes and makes death sting a little less.