Sunday, May 10, 2015

Week 19 (part 2): A Letter to My Girls on My First Mother's Day Without My Mother

Dear Nora and Tilly,

Losing my mother, your Nanny, has been the most emotionally painful thing I've experienced in my life so far. As Mother's Day approached, I had no idea how I would spend the day. After much thought, I decided that I would choose to do some things to honor her.

I ordered myself an orange rose corsage. Nanny loved flowers, but she used to tell me that orange roses were her favorite. Nora, you were so intrigued by my flower. You wanted to touch it and smell it, and you wondered why I was wearing it. I told you that it was Nanny's favorite flower, and that seemed to be a good enough reason for you. Tilly, it definitely caught your eye, and as I was snuggling you in my arms giving you a bottle, I had to take it off because you kept grabbing at it, and I was afraid you would stick yourself with the pin!

Here we are getting ready to go to Mother's Day lunch with me wearing my corsage.

Tilly, I love how you are so completely not into this little Mother's Day love-fest. Don't worry, you got some smooches, too. I'll share that a little further down.

Something else we did today in honor of my mother/your Nanny is that we planted a tree. I have several things around our house right now that were given to me as gifts in memory of my mom. There is a candle-- Nanny loved candles, and Nora, like me, you love to blow out candles. It drove my mother crazy when would go behind her blowing out all of her beloved candles, so it makes me smile that you do the same thing. I also have some wind chimes that hang on our front porch, and I truly do think of her every time they blow in the wind. And as of today, we have a tree in our front yard. We planted it this evening after Tilly was asleep and just before it was time for Nora to go to bed, too.

Yes, I am outside in my pajamas. That is my mother's night shirt, actually. It was one of her personal belongings that I brought home with me.

Your Daddy and I are saying "cheers" next to Nanny's tree-- a little toast to your her with some Mike's (cherry) Lemonade, which is a drink she always had waiting for us when we would go to Nova Scotia to visit.

I actually have a few other things to plant with Nanny in mind. She loved to sit out in her back yard, and for a while, she was really into her garden. She loved her flowers and loved to bask in their beauty. So, I have another tree to plant in the back yard as well as a flower for our garden. The flower is one that Tilly planted for me for Mother's Day. Ok, Ms. Tracy planted it, but I know that Tilly would have if she could have. Anyway, I hope to get some help getting our garden whipped into shape as well. I think Nanny would have liked all of those things.

Nora, tonight after we planted the one tree in the front yard you talked about how the tree would grow from a little tree into a big tree. I can't wait to see how it looks this time next year. Maybe each year we can do something special next to (and eventually under) Nanny's tree in memory of her-- a picnic, read a book-- whatever feels right. We'll figure it out as we go along.

So, as you can probably tell, it was a nice enough day, and considering that it was my first Mother's Day without my mom, I think I did ok, but I have some things on my mind and in my heart that I want to share with you.

A mother's love for her children is both simple and complicated. It is unconditional in the truest sense of the word. There is nothing in this world that either of you could do that would ever diminish my deep, deep love for you. You may be reading this now and rolling your eyes or saying, "Yeah, yeah, mom, we know." But you don't know. I didn't know.

On the day that you were born, Nora, I finally understood the depth of my mother's love for me. I always knew that she loved me because she told me and she showed me my whole life, but I had no concept of what that really meant until the moment I held you and looked into your eyes. Tilly, it was no less special or profound 3 years, 10 months, and 15 days later. On the day you were born, I was once again reminded that "love at first sight" is real and true.

Part of what I find so tragic about having lost my mother at this time in our lives is that I've only been a mother myself for 4 short years. I have only had 4 years to understand and appreciate my mother's love for me. On the day Nora was born, my new life as a mother began, and I looked forward to sharing this new life with MY mother for many more years. I looked forward to going through each new stage with her by my side, guiding me through the ups and downs as only a mother can. It breaks my heart that Nanny won't get to watch me be your mother, but I will strive to be the kind of mother to you that she was to me-- patient, loving, forgiving, and so much more.

It is not lost on me that I am blessed beyond measure to have had her for 38 years. Not everyone has that privilege. There is no guarantee that any of us will wake up tomorrow, so to have had 38 years worth of "tomorrows" with her is a privilege and a gift. I would have liked 38 more, but I will try every day to be thankful for what I had.

Nora, Tilly, I hope and pray that I get to raise you into adulthood and watch you each also become mothers, if that is what you choose for yourselves, but if for some reason, our time together was cut short, I want you to know this. My love for you is complicated because there are no words to articulate a parent's deep and unconditional love for a child.

And my love for you is also as simple as this.

Today, someone reminded me that the best Mother's Day gift I can give my mother in Heaven is to celebrate my motherhood. So, even though it was hard, today I did that.

I love you both, simply and completely, always and forever.

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