Mother’s Day post-loss, part 3

My mother doesn’t know that, for one month five years ago, she was a grandmother.

I don’t see her often, but we met up for Mother’s Day and spent the day doing fun things and I had to recenter over and over again so as to remember that this was a day on the calendar delegated for mothers who are openly acknowledged, and known, to have that title.
Does conceiving an offspring who was never born allow me to have that title?
I feel like the outside world, outside of my own, disallows it. Especially since it was my “choice”.
I feel connected to the title of Mother, however ambiguous or past or present it may or may not be. The  viewpoints or opinions (borrowed or authentic) of others might not agree or, as I’ve absorbed 100x fold is not okay or real.
This is one of so many reasons why I’ve chosen to participate in this blog’s goals.
To express the reality that women who “choose” termination are free to identify with the title of Mother, free to identify with grieving loss in the same or similar ways that Mothers who did not choose such an ending.

In the early evening of Mother’s Day, after my mom and I parted ways on separate trains, the isolation arrived more clearly than it had all day. I was alone with the presence of guilt and the presence of quiet rest against a cold train window.
She was lit up all day. I’m her first-born, and she reflected on the special rite-of-passage that she had when I was born. The contrast of her joy with the stark emptiness of my heart (and of my womb) churned within me throughout the course of the day and peaked on my way home.
Deep sadness sat with me like an unwelcome visitor overstaying its visit.
She didn’t know. She’s never known.

When I handed her my Mother’s Day card, I somewhat wished that the secret would come out when she opened it and that she wouldn’t be upset if it did, and that she wouldn’t be sad or feel loss of an opportunity she never had, and that she would tell me “I acknowledge you, and we are both Mothers in our own ways.” and that she would offer comfort mixed with support and that then it could be a bittersweet day with more moments of sweet ones than of bitter ones, because she knew and I didn’t have to feel like I was witnessing my life from outside of myself.

I imagine that’s what a ghost of oneself would/does experience, or a ghost of one’s past, or a ghost of one’s memory, or a ghost of one’s regret, or a ghost of one’s loss.

For isn’t death what gives us lucidity, which never dies?

Mother’s Day post-loss, part 2

“Is there anything I can help you with?”, a store associate asked me. It jolted me a bit because I had no idea how long I had been lingering among the cards. I felt all-too-familiar pangs of vulnerability, embarrassment and isolation bubble up and disrupt the soft storm that was simmering inside my head and heart. When these pangs occur publicly an anxious sensation, which I never feel in other times, arrives and I want it to leave immediately. The associate was courteously doing her job and possibly (likely) sensed that I could use her offer. I wanted her to leave immediately, yet go ahead and tell her why I couldn’t make up my mind. I imagined myself blurting out “Why don’t you have cards for this? Is there anything you can do? Can you write a letter to corporate? Can I?”
Instead I responded as I’ve taught myself to do: With a cold shallow breath rising up from my chest to my throat, mustering all the little strength I have to keep my voice from breaking, I closed the door between us with a brief “no thank you, I’m fine.”

The lie echoed around me. I despise saying that phrase in times like this. My skin felt cold, as it always does when I am cornered into feigning wellness.

“No thank you, I’m fine.”

Mother’s Day post-loss, part 1

There are no commercial Hallmark cards on the market for women who, by planned or unplanned means, have lost their offspring. I know this, yet nevertheless I looked for one when shopping for a Mother’s Day card for my own mom.
For every card I saw I knew that it had been created to sell a sentiment to someone who chose to walk in the store to sift through the embellished, decorative rows until they found “the right one”. How do they, and I, end up choosing the right one? We might connect with the art or the words, on the spectrum of sentimentality; sometimes it’s rooted in obligation. We gather our internal maternal experiences over time until the sum of the parts succinctly confirms we have found “the right one”.
It’s common for the gift-giver to visualize what the recipient mom will think and appreciate when they open the envelope. That guides their discovery. The moment of anticipation which surfaces, from both sides, when a gift is about to be exchanged is habitual and essential to the experience.