Article

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.