Bereft

It is not an easy thing to lose your mother. Once, when I was three, I lost my mother in a grocery store. I remember looking at a row of canned food and then looking up for my mother, and she was gone. She was there and then she was not. I can’t tell you how I felt at that moment because there are no words adequate for the feeling a three-year-old has at the loss of her mother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to get any easier with age.

For the past year or so now, I have felt that three-year-old curled up inside of me crying inconsolably, “I want my mommy.” I do, too. I want my mommy. I want her so bad, and I can’t find her anymore. And, this time, she’s not looking for me.

When I go to her house, I open her drawers and find things arranged just as she left them. Her neat, little address book tucked away in a drawer with her pens and pencils and envelopes. I read the entries in her address book written in the neatest handwriting you have ever seen. Some addresses or phone numbers carefully erased with new ones penciled in. I try to find the most recent changes. I realize what seems like yesterday was actually several years ago. My mother. Always so neat and organized. I feel like I am peering into a time capsule. Like I am being ricocheted back and forth in time. Just a few years in time, but seemingly a lifetime apart.

I run, crying out for my mother, but she is not there. She was just there a minute ago. I just looked away, and she was gone. Somebody help me find my mother. I want my mother. I want her now. I run up and down the wide aisles, and I can’t find her anywhere. She is not rearranging her pantry. She is not busy decorating a wedding cake. She is not sitting quietly on the couch tatting. She’s not sitting at the dining room table carefully writing a letter to an old friend. She’s not out in the yard talking across the fence to a neighbor. She’s not bringing the clothes in from out on the line or ironing shirts or watering her plants…

When I was five, I watched my mother leave me. I was the oldest of her four children, and we all had pneumonia while my father was away on a business trip. When he came home, she told him that she couldn’t take it anymore, and she was leaving. And she left. I watched her from the kitchen window as she walked down the side street and away from our house. Away from me. I don’t know where she went. I don’t remember when she returned.

I’m looking out that same window now. I know where my mother is going. I know she won’t be returning to me. I want to cry out and bang on the glass, but she is too far away now.

It is not an easy thing to lose your mother.

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  1. My mother passed away last December — this has been a year of facing all the “firsts” without her. I have known that exact same feeling of a little child wanting her mommy — I have said that over and over in my heart. If not for knowing that our times are in His hands, and knowing where she is now and that it is so much better than here, I don’t think I could take it.
    There was one period in my teens when my mom left my father for another man who she eventually married — she had taken all of us kids with her, but she wasn’t the same — it felt as if she had left us in her heart for a long time. We had always been close and that breach was so painful. The verse “When father and mother forsake me then the Lord will take me up” ministered to me — He did use the situation to bring me to Himself. And we eventually restored our relationship.
    All of that to say — my heart goes out to you.

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  2. Barbara- That is interesting that you quote that particular verse. When my father had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery in August, I went to help care for my parents. One night as I was reading my Bible, I came across that verse. It really covers a lot of ground for me. What a comfort to me. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment.

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  3. That’s exactly how I felt when I lost my Dad. It’s an ache that ebbs and flows, like waves, over the years even. She will always be a part of you, always.
    (((hugs)))

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  4. I just read your blog about your feelings for your mother. I totally understand since my Mom
    has had Alzheimers for 14 years. She has not known me for at least 1 1/2 yrs. I was taken from my parents at age 3yrs and adopted by my mom and Dad at age 7rs. Dad has been gone since 1979 and I also wonder where Mom went. It is comforting to know someone else has these feelings. She will be going home to be with the Lord at some time in the future. She just had her 90th birthday.

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  5. Oh Firefly,
    You put into words so beautifully what I am feeling. I cried as I read your post, thinking especially of last week when I just wanted to talk to mom. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this with your mother. I think what you and Ellen are going through must be worse than a sudden death of a loved one. I can’t imagine going to visit your parent and not having them recognize you or even notice you are there.
    I pray that I can use my experience to bless someone else as you have me.
    Thank you for your kind words and for leading me to your post.
    Blessings,
    Julie

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  6. I lost my mother 3 1/2 years ago. She had been sick for 24 years. Our relationship had been up and down over the years, but we had been close friends for about a year or so when she went Home to be with the Lord. The missing goes on and on. I still cry. I miss her like crazy sometimes, and at other times she doesn’t come to mind so readily. It is not easy, but the pain does lessen.

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  7. Pingback: I’ll Fly Away | Dappled Things

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