A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I were going through our calendars, trying to pick a night she would take my kids overnight so that The Husband and I could have a date night. I suggested Saturday, May 9th to which she replied “Sunday is Mother’s Day. Are you okay with that?”. “Why wouldn’t I be? I don’t have my mother, remember?”

She laughed and reminded me that I am a mother.

As if I forgot.

It’s been barely five years since I lost my mother – and even though I am a mom, I have many more years experience celebrating her than I do celebrating my own motherhood. We had a tradition of taking my mom and grandma out for a nice brunch each Mother’s Day. I recall the smell of the room, the buffet options, the mimosas, the weather. I miss it all. I miss them both.

The best mother’s day gift would be to be able to get back the time with my own mom. I was a mom myself barely four months when she passed away. At that time, I had no idea how many questions I’d have for her, how much I’d need her suggestions, her memory, her comfort, her mothering. A few times I’ve asked my dad things about my childhood … does he remember how old I was when I started showing signs of a speech problem, or how old I was when I started walking, or my first words? He doesn’t. Those would have been questions for my mother.

A few years after she passed away, I brought a box of her scrapbooking supplies to work with me and gave them to a co-worker. The next day, she put an envelope on my desk and told me that she found it in one of the scrapbooking books and thought I would want it. Inside was a 5×7 black and white photo of my mom. It appears as if the photo was taken on the top of a hill somewhere in the valley, for there are what looks to be crops behind her. No buildings, no people. Just nature. In her hand she’s holding a pad of paper and it looks as though she was in the middle of writing something down when something made her look up, and the photo was taken. I’m guessing she was about 16 or 17 years old. But what is most striking to me is the laughter on her face for although I had seen my mom laugh countless times over the course of my 38 years with her I don’t know that I ever witnessed this particular degree of raw pleasure on her face. For the first time in my life I felt as though the mom I knew was masking a huge degree of pain.

The older I get, the more I want to know about her as a person. I never realized how little I truly knew about her life’s experiences. And perhaps it’s because I can no longer pick up the phone and call her that I want to know so much more. Or perhaps it’s because I’m in a different place in my life now. More likely, it’s a little of both.