Mom insisted that I send no Mother’s Day flowers this year. I can’t blame her if she can’t look at thday the same, not yet anyway. The cruelty this year, in particular, stems from the fact that this second Sunday in May, May 9, was the day in 2007 when Mom’s first-born, Craig, died of his injuries at the Montréal Neurological Institute, days before he would have turned fifty-two on May 13. The cards-and-flowers day first lost its shimmer even earlier with the death, on May 4, 2002, of Mom’s best friend – my Dad – just a couple of months shy of their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
It’s all just a little too much.
It is of little consolation that Craig and I, when things were different, did not expect to live beyond the 1990s. We were all getting gratefully accustomed to the change in health outlook for HIV/AIDS. Craig had even survived several years of angina, stents and – not much more than a year before his fall – quadruple bypass surgery. It was the suddenness of Craig’s freak accident, and the immediate rush to unconsciousness, that is so painful to reconcile. Now we know, because he showed absolutely no agitation for two weeks, that he was not in pain.
A consolation, yes.
Just like when Mom looked out in the garden and saw Dad, digging lightly one minute and sprawled dead on the ground shortly thereafter, he didn’t suffer.
The very least one can say when words fail.
But Mom’s history of being thought of as “strong” wears thin when it is equated with her being consistently okay, like some unfeeling rock which just buffets any and all lashes. I can see and hear her weariness, as she fast approaches eighty, better than perhaps I wanted to in the past.
On the phone today, Mom told me about her drive out to the cemetery this afternoon. Tulips which Claude – along with our niece and nephew, my sister and me – planted last Thanksgiving were blooming today. They weren’t all white, as Claude had thought, but Mom says they show that both Dad’s and Craig’s graves are important to us - nothing artificial, no kitschy decorations.
To anyone whose mother has died, or to a mother who has also lost a child, you might be tempted to wish the day would just be over with – like my Mom this year. I can understand this, through seeing her grief. You might also use the day to celebrate your very best memories, as I’m sure we all can, whether this year or some other time.
Although I fear the day when she may pre-decease me – but we know not to assume that – Mom, in the meantime, remains a rock to me.
A crystal, perhaps, like a rose quartz or amethyst.