The month of May.

“Time is the school in which we learn.”

-Joan Didion

Mom Wales

I don’t want to write about my mother. I don’t even really want to think about her, which, of course, I feel immediately guilty for saying out loud. It’s also not true. I do want to think about her, and write about her, I just don’t want those thoughts and words to be sad or painful anymore. I don’t want to be possessed by grief, or by the unanswered questions surrounding her death. I don’t want to pen another depressing Mother’s Day missive, tinged with longing and regret.

But as I think about all the motherless daughters (and sons) out there, facing the onslaught of greeting cards and flowers and an entire industry built around trumpeting “Mom’s special day,” I also feel that it’s important to be honest. I feel that it’s important to say that for some of us, Mother’s Day is just a day we have to endure, a day we need to get through. And there’s nothing shameful or wrong in admitting that.

My mother is everywhere lately. She’s been showing up in my dreams on the regular, uninvited, in places where she normally wouldn’t be, in places that don’t make sense.

They’re not bad dreams, not scary or unpleasant. Most of the time I don’t even remember them; they fade from view as soon as I wake up. I only know that in my subconscious mind, my mom and I have been spending a lot of time together lately.

Maybe it’s because the calendar has flipped to May, which was always her month. The month of Mother’s Day and her birthday, but also the month when spring flowers bloom, after those proverbial April rains that never seem to fall in Los Angeles. My mother was an avid gardener. She loved planting things and watching them grow.

Hawaii Babes

So maybe it is the season. Or maybe it’s just the place I’m at in my life – one of uncertainty and change – that has me craving maternal guidance. There are so many questions I want to ask her, so many things I want to say. There’s something about losing your parents that propels you into adulthood in a way that simply getting older never can. There’s something strangely disorienting about no longer needing to seek permission or approval, of having to own your life choices – both good and bad – because they are yours, alone.

The Jacarandas are blooming in Los Angeles. All over the city, trees burst with purple flowers, blossoms spilling onto the street, leaving a trail of vibrant lavender. I’ve always loved the color of Jacaranda purple, even before I knew Jacarandas were a thing. It was the color of my high school bedroom, and I remember feeling cheerful and happy inside of those walls. Even now, there’s something soothing and dreamy about those bluish violet flowers filling up the sky. Some days, a walk through my neighborhood feels like stepping onto the canvas of an Impressionist painting.

But as pretty as they are, Jacarandas are also a real nuisance. Their flowers float down from the sky in droves, blanketing the streets with purple carcasses. And as they turn brown and die, they leave a sticky, slippery, gelatinous residue on everything they touch. Park your car underneath a shedding Jacaranda tree for more than a few minutes, you begin to hate the things.

I suppose, like everything in life, it’s about perspective. If you look up, the Jacaranda trees are beautiful. Look down, not so much.

I’m trying to keep that in mind as I approach this Mother’s Day. On difficult days, looking up toward the sky doesn’t always come naturally. But when you do – if you can – it’s bound to be more beautiful.

Until next time, friends.

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12 thoughts on “The month of May.

    • I dunno. I think forcing thought is bad. I think acknowledging the mix and complexity of emotion is the best we can do.

      Some wounds run deep. I didn’t think about my mother at all the first 2 years after she died – missed her birthday and the anniversary of her death completely. At some point during year 3 A.D. I could tolerate brief memories of her. Now as we approach year 4 A.D, I too feel her presence a lot, as she is often in my thoughts for various reasons. Had I rushed the initial grieving period, I don’t know that I would have ever gotten to the place where I can remember her with love, instead of with intolerable pain.

      Extra Dry Martini – thanks, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my Father tragically at 25 and I resonate with your thoughts about it propelling you into adulthood. Deep down I believe I thought he’d always be around to bail me out of life and it was a rude awakening when I realized he wouldn’t. Always good to know others share your pain. Cheers!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. For many of us, for a variety of reasons, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of loss and heartache. Not everyone has a Mother then can celebrate with or about. So Mother yourself, do something special that celebrates your ability to wrap your arms around yourself and nurture the girl that will always need you to be there for her.

  3. As often, you write things that I feel but I could not say or write them as you do… With so much elegance and sensitivity. My parents aren’t there anymore and I’m an adult now, because of their loss; but I still don’t have words to write about them, about my grief, about how I miss them; about how, sometimes, very small things make me think of them (althought I forget the sound of their voices or their perfume or some entire part of my relationship with my mother or my father!)
    So, thanks for sharing these words, I wish I could write such beautiful things!
    Charlotte.
    (Sorry for my english, it’s not really fluent but reading your blog is part of my english language studying, too!)

  4. Thank you for sharing this. My dad died almost a year ago and it still feels so fresh. Last year we celebrated Mother’s and Father’s Day at the same time (on Mother’s Day) which makes it very bittersweet this year.

  5. Ghosts’ be they breathing and walking this earth or be they in the ground they do not deserve such days of heart… ‘Do or did onto wee babes and children such evils, and they are nil and void of such privileges’ of heart and celebrations of joy, they condemn themselves, their very own souls.

    Mother’s day is now a happy loving Day for my dear wife and our little baby boy to bond and cherish each other on, just like every Day here is.

  6. I feel ya. I’m not really looking forwards to enduring another Mother’s Day. It’s all coming up for me too these past weeks.

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